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The Perils of Regret

Hello my precious readers,

The other day I went with my wife to see our two youngest grandchildren in the end-of-year school play. They are four-year-old twin girls and, I can confirm without a hint of bias, they are seriously cute. The moment that all these delightful children came out onto the stage, I think they could have simply stood there, never even performing their play and we would have clapped, cried and laughed and the lot of us would have gone home having had a wonderful time.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what I thought when very young. Apparently, as my mum always told me, I too was very cute. Sometimes I’d come in wearing my Batman outfit to ask her where she’d put my mask, only to be greeted by a load of: ‘oohs,’ ‘aahs,’ and ‘you look very good’ or ‘that’s so cute’ and many other exclamations of joy from my many aunties. Maybe I didn’t think anything of it, maybe I enjoyed the complements, or maybe I thought they were just behaving like old people do…unfortunately I cannot really remember.

What I did observe as those kiddies stood there in a line, waiting until we’d finally calmed down, was the obvious nerves and slight confusion about what all the fuss was about. As a kid you don’t think about being cute, you just simply are cute. You are not behaving in a way to make adults ooh and aah, you are simply living your life as you know it.

This brings me to the word… ‘hindsight’. Sometimes I look back at when I was young, or my kids were young with nostalgia, reflexion or even regret. Here are a few ways that can be expressed:

  • ‘If only I knew then, what I know now.’
  • ‘If I could have seen what was going to happen.’
  • ‘I wish I…’

Actually, I could go on forever. It usually starts with the words, ‘if only’ or ‘I wish’ and ends with a soulful sigh.

The fact is we seem to need time to pass after something actually occurs to get a better or different view or attitude to an incident. This, of course, applies to age as well, as age gives us that time to look back and see things with a different perspective.

Often with age you think or hear: ‘I never did appreciate…’ when it comes to recalling life when younger. But simply that is a cousin to regret, which is not a pleasant emotion. We mostly did what we thought was right at the time. That is just how life is. The experience, the knowledge and the life lessons we have now were not available to us then, so why regret the past?

Let’s face it, life is no easy ride and when it goes wrong the determination to do better the next time is what counts. And when it goes right, enjoy the moment for all its worth. Life throws everything at us, just like the title of that old western movie Clint Eastwood was in: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

So, let’s stop trying to change the past, and use the phrases, ‘if’ and ‘I wish’ towards making the future a little more enjoyable.

And with that, I wish you all a truly happy Christmas,

Mark Kloss