Thursday, August 1, 2013

Regrettably Yours

Yes, it's been a month and a half since I've posted. I've pondered a few different posts, but they just wouldn't translate. Plus, I've been kind of busy. Plus... I just didn't feel like getting the muscle workout needed for writing gymnastics. For those of you who don't know, writing is hard work. Even so, I've been thinking a lot about writing and getting back to it... and then along came Effy, a delightful, wacky, take-no-prisoners-or-bullshit, artsy friend who proposed Blog Along With Effy as a way to get a bunch of us back in touch with ourselves and, better yet, our writing selves. I'm in. So, I'm going from zero posts to posting every day for the next 30 days.

Haven't I always been an all-or-nothing gal though? You can stop nodding now.

One of the topics I've thought about blogging this past month has been regret. Regret gets a bad rap. People are constantly harping about living without regrets. If we're human at all, living without regret is an impossibility and setting ourselves such a lofty goal will only leave us with... yeah, you guessed it... regret.

re·gret:
verb,
1. to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.): He no sooner spoke than he regretted it. 2. to think of with a sense of loss: to regret one's vanished youth.
noun
3. a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
4. a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.
(Thanks for that, dictionary.com)

I think what most people don't realize is that they are putting regret on the same peg as shame, and guilt, and fear. And it doesn't belong there. At all. Whereas shame, guilt, and fear will weigh us down until it is impossible to move, regret is an insight. Hold on just a second and think about that. Regret is an insight.

If, say for instance, I regret that I've never traveled to Ireland, that thought would lead me to, "And why the hell haven't I? Why not? Let's GO!"  Perhaps, in my old age, I'm thinking about the way I treated someone many years ago. I regret that I was not kinder. If time is on our side, I can look that person up, contact them, and say, "Man, I was such an Ass Barnacle... my apologies." (Been there, done that, thank you for nagging me, oh Great Regret!)

I'll say it again, because it was such a revelation to me. Regret is an insight. Regret is useful. Sure, live with regret! I'm living with regret and I love it. Regret for things I've missed, or done, or have neglected... that's what spurs me to action today. Regret is what pushes me beyond fear, shame, and guilt. It's that Jiminy Cricket-y voice that says, "You don't want to feel badly about this any more. Deal with it."

I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences. 
I'm human, not perfect, like anybody else.
~Queen Latifah

Anyway, you can quit trying to live without regret. As Mr. Gump would say, "And that was good because, y'know... one less thang." You'll just have to uselessly strive for perfection in some other arena.

3 comments:

  1. I love this, Barb! Your perspective never fails to give me a new way to look at something. I think what you say about regret spurring action is so true. And that looking at it that way, regret can be quite helpful to living a purposeful life. I just completed a blog post about Regret. I seem to get a lot of emails from those who missed out on their loved ones lives due to distraction and over-working. They say they regret so much and that it's too late. But I like to think it's never too late to try to live the way you wished you had earlier. I think there is so much hope in today. Thanks for inspiring, as always, dear one.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Rachel! Your perspective does the same for me - I'm pretty sure we were meant to stumble across each other!

      I agree, it's never too late. It may not match the ideal(s) that we had in our youth, but there is still time to "live a life less ordinary" no matter how old we are.

      XOXO

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  2. Regret is an insight and a signal to stop beating ourselves up. Leave the past and look to the future with that new insight!!!
    Thanks, Barb.
    from Sharan

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