There are words we say and words we don’t. The experiences that we share also impart the ways we choose to view them. The feelings that we have, and how simple and complicated they can seem when examined individually and collectively.
I’ve been fortunate to have some down time recently. Life feels like it could go in a multiple directions, all compelling in various ways. The adventurer in me thinks, “Explore each route to see what is the most interesting! Surely another interesting path will open off that!” While my inner sage says softly, simply, “Choose a path by following your heart.”
Taking time to pause enables the opportunity to consult my directional tools. What do I want my life to look like? When my time comes, what would I feel joy remembering? What are my deepest held values and beliefs? Reflecting helps my navigation, though it brings up few regrets.
I will always wish I had more time with my family. That those endless summers as a child were incredible gifts – time spent with a charming and quirky family on memorable adventures. Bearing witness to the failures of memory in modern moments, I value these shared experiences so much more. These are times we can relive together in the moments we preciously carve together.
Sometimes, I’ve had to commit to the wrong decision in order to prove something to myself. These are the decisions that have caused me the most pain after the fact; the ones that still wash waves of regret over my toes years later if I’m left pondering a body of water too long. In many cases, the point I thought I was proving and the point actually proved are very different, and contain spiritually costly lessons. Applying these lessons has led to decisions I’ve thought through carefully — examining multiple potential outcomes and carefully acknowledging and accepting risks — and these decisions leave me feeling strong, with an enriched life.
Regrets get a bad rap sometime. My inner child tries to interrupt when someone tells me that I shouldn’t feel any regrets. These are valuable tools in life! They can help if revisited periodically for course adjustment. Sure, someone should strive to make choices they won’t regret. But what do the regrets we hold on to tell us about our heart’s deepest desires?
My regrets center around words spoken and words left unsaid. Where murmured sussurations may have rendered other regrets moot. And so now, sometimes, I find myself with unweildy words at the edge of my mouth – and instead, I swallow the words whole, conscious of their sharp blade against my vulnerable insides, and use every other means necessary to communicate the message I want to share…