What do you Regret?

On July 5, 2011, in Articles of Awesomeness, by Emily

My life has few regrets. Everything happens for a reason.

The first draft of this post was written while a friend of mine was still alive. The second draft of this post sees my friend in the summerlands. His body rebelled against him, and his soul decided to depart. Rest well, Allen.

I feel that nobody’s spirit ever truly dies as long as there is one person to remember them. I believe that the person goes to another place to be reborn, because it would be cruel to be existent for only a pinprick in the fabric of time. This post is not about my views on death. No, this post is about regrets and pulling personal awesomeness from those regrets.

His passing through the veil provides me with a newfound purpose. Just a little over a month ago, we were celebrating his life and enjoying his company. We were enjoying the caring in his eyes as he looked upon his godchild. We were seeing the vivacious passion that he had for life, despite the aggravations that his body was putting him through. Frankly, I don’t know what regrets that Allen had about his life, because I never asked.

Regrets arise from the roads not traveled. I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I chosen to go to the the other college that gave me a full scholarship. I wonder what would have happened had I not told Bryan that I loved him. My path would have been different than it is now, though I imagine that there would be regrets about an entirely different set of ‘what ifs’ in my life. I can’t say that my life would have been better had I made those choices, I can’t say that it would have been worse, but I can say that it would have been different. I read this article and realized for the umpteenth time that I lead an awesome, contented life.

This is a powerful exercise in defining the goals that I have. I began to think about the goals that I have in terms of the regrets that I will have upon my deathbed.

What will I regret?

I’ll regret not writing more
I’ll regret not teaching more
I’ll regret not making more friends
I’ll regret not being more social with the friends I have
I’ll regret not following more of my dreams
I’ll regret not taking every opportunity to grow
I’ll regret not taking physically taking care of myself

After getting the general idea, I will probably hone these down. Most of my time is spent writing. Most of the writing that I do is geared toward teaching. I edit very rarely, and sometimes my communication skills wane… and the point gets muddied as a result. I haven’t taken every single opportunity to be social with my friends, even though I believe that most of the ‘good stuff’ with friends is had during the ‘white noise’ times, rather than the ‘signal’ times. Just being within their presence is uplifting. The list goes on, where I further define the goals that I have in being a cycle breaking superhero.

The minimalist idea says that one should remove the ‘not important’ things, and do more of the important things. Honestly, I cannot see myself lamenting the fact that I did not play enough video games. I understand and have come to terms with the fact that I need something to break up my mental patterns, but that ‘something’ does not have to be pursued by mindlessly clicking on a screen. I receive quite a lot more entertainment and delight from talking with other people and enjoying their presence.

Cycle breaking involves mindfulness. It involves being aware of the unskillful patterns that have developed, and then replacing those unskillful patterns with skillful ones. I find myself slipping into ‘basic’ me when I am not able to think of the next thing to do. Breaking cycles with the regret in mind has been an extraordinarily powerful exercise for me.

Life is short, and everything has its purpose. Take a few moments and decide what is important in your own life, and think about it from the perspective of lying on your deathbed. Take the opportunity that you have, that I have had, and use it to pursue your personal passions and awesomeness.

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