Tuesday, February 19, 2013


If I asked if you had any regrets you might recall an instance of too many libations, words spoken in anger to a loved one, a less-than-inspired performance on the job, or any combination thereof. For a good many of us our teenage years are when momentary lapses in common sense and sound judgment led to events that have stayed with us for the rest of our lives.

The things we do that lead to regret are often a mixed bag. How about the thrill of flying down the open road coupled with the regret of getting a speeding ticket? The regret was magnified tenfold when we faced dad or mom, as they opened up the next car insurance bill. To be sure, we wrestled with the consequences of our actions, at least until another dumb challenge found us gunning it through an intersection once the light turned green.

Some of us carry regrets linked to drinking. We didn't start out trying to get blind, falling-down drunk, but we got there soon enough. And what about that peculiar mental state when we felt bionic, indestructible and possessed of exceptionally good looks? You know, ten feet tall, bullet-proof, and God's gift to the ladies. For a time, in our minds at least, we were all these things. To those around us, however, we were somehow less than suave, debonair and entirely charming. This hit home when we were reminded by those true friends we had who wondered if we really intended to make a consistent fool of ourselves.

Regret is characterized by feelings of sadness, repentance or disappointment over something that has happened or been done. For me there was one regret I had that went far beyond mere feelings; it manifested itself as a dark shadow hanging over me. It was something I kept hidden, something I never told others, for fear to speak it would bring condemnation.

Perhaps you too have such a regret -- something you lug round that rises to the surface at inopportune times -- like at three in the morning when sleep eludes you.

There came a time in my life when I had to face down my regret. I spoke it aloud to a friend, putting it out there. To my surprise I wasn't condemned or even banished for my longstanding offense. In fact, the man I spoke my regret to found it interesting I even regretted that specific deed. He told me what I did was nothing to regret. In fact, he had done the same thing.

Was that ever a freeing revelation!

I have found that since that discussion I no longer spring awake at three in the morning with feelings of sadness, repentance or disappointment.

Instead, now at three in the morning all I'm doing is keeping my wife up with my snoring. Perhaps there will come a time when I regret that.

But not yet.

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