Living With Our Regrets
“Regrets I’ve had a few
But then, too few to mention”
Frank Sinatra in “My Way”
I meet from time to time for coffee with a group of oldsters. We tell our stories, get heated about politics, talk some sports. If we are lucky, we get to ogle pretty young things passing by and pine for the days of our youth. Sometimes we even get serious.
On one of those serious days, someone brought up the subject of regrets. “What was your biggest regret in life?” was the question du jour. One man regretted not going back to school and getting a college degree. Another mentioned the divorce that should not had happened. One of the women present said she wished she had spent more time having fun with her kids. A man teared up when he mentioned how bad he felt that he wasn’t with his dad when he died.
I think of regrets as the “hits” we take from life. The major “hits” will happen to most of us over the long haul. Our life-long companion is no longer with us. We endure the loss of our parents or fail in a relationship. They are part of our human condition. As the Buddhists have it “Suffering is a “given” on our journey.
I’m convinced that the way we deal with our regrets is a pretty good predictor of our happiness in life. In “My Way”, old Frankie sang those regrets away by making light of them. “Regrets I’ve had a few but then too few to mention.” The lyrics suggest that we simply ignore the mistakes we made as though they did not exist.
I submit that it is better to try to accept them as part of who we are, flawed human beings living in an imperfect world. There is no use in pretending we are angels. We are far from it. Nor are we clotted pieces of clay, as some religious fundamentalists seem to imply. I prefer that saying
from the 60’s, “God doesn’t make junk.” Created from the heart of a loving God, we carry the Divine spark within us.
Regrets are part of the price we pay for being fallible human beings, all too prone to screw up. All we can do is acknowledge the mistakes, ask forgiveness of anyone you have wronged (starting with yourself) and then send those regrets on to a loving God. Our Creator knows exactly what to do with them.