“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been’.”
– Kurt Vonnegut
We are defined and known by the things which we do. At your next job interview or business meeting, point out to your peers that you could have been Summa Cum Laude but chose not to – just see what response it gets. Nobody wants to buy the things you could have done but didn’t. Likewise, you shouldn’t let yourself be caught up in the drama of what may have happened.
Regret can be a very destructive challenge to deal with. Too many people carry the weight of their regrets to everything they do. I don’t believe the past should be a burden. I think it’s only safe to say that no matter how exuberant and ambitious you are, there will always be times where you didn’t but might have. The more you allow these thoughts to tear away at the back of your mind, the more you’ll miss the here and now.
I used to know a man that worked in radio.The joy and struggle of journalism is that much of the mood can be dictated by the events of the world that day. He told me that some days he would hear and report on wonderful news – marriages, births, companies and individuals that succeed against all odds… Other days weren’t as cheerful. Some days he would have to deliver terrible news to his listeners – war, famine, massacre, death…
Some days it was a lot to bear, and he wished he could be oblivious to the world around him, but his job required he know and share. On days where he found the weight oppressive, he told me he always liked to go outside and stand by the trees as they would blow in the wind. No matter the atrocity of the day, the trees never minded. In fact, their existence didn’t change in the slightest. And if life came after them? Their trials came and went.
The point of the story is that the trees didn’t have the capacity to hold on to the past. They didn’t have any ability to understand outside of their immediate present. If the wind blew from the west, they would lean to the east without a second wasted pondering the value of it all.
As humans, I believe we are prone to ruminating. Whether we fail a job interview or a college entrance exam, we suffer inside ourselves until determination or apathy come to claim us. Regardless of our circumstances, regret is a choice. Like so many things, this is much easier to say and to know than it is to live. Please know that I don’t take that for granted.
When days are tough, perhaps nature offers a glimpse at the acceptance we must learn ourselves. It is the human spirit, however, that is capable of dreaming and accomplishing. Don’t let reasonable sorrow turn into regrets. Learn to recognize the opportunities you would regret passing up. Invariably, when you do hit a bump in your road, let it pass. Don’t let the past become regret and keep you from the present. Your future depends on it.
Thank you for your time.