I received my first check as a fiction writer this past weekend. It was an exciting moment. This was the biggest dream I wanted to come true and here was more proof that I accomplished my goal. There's a tremendous amount of work ahead, but I'm thrilled to do it. I've also started researching the travel I would like to do to complete more of the items on my list. I'm unsure how I'm going to make it all happen, but as I look forward to the possibilities, figure out my starting point, and what I'll need to do to get where I want to go I'm energized to take on the challenges and accept the miracles that seem to come when I decide that no matter what I will attain my goals.
Now on to the topic of the week - Regret.
This past week a friend said to me, "I'm so afraid to heal the pain in my life because if I can heal it now then why couldn't I have healed it ten years ago. I've been stuck in this rut for so long and if I start to feel better then I'll know that I wasted all those years feeling bad. I don't want to feel that regret."
This statement might sound strange but it's common. I have another friend who's in a very bad relationship. It's not even a relationship because the man has refused to be committed, but as soon as she walks away he comes back just to be certain she's in love again. Then he disappears. When I ask her why she doesn't kick him to the curb she says, "I've invested so much time. If I leave - what was it all for? If I stay then there's at least a chance that it will be worth it."
Too often we look at our past and regret what we've done - maybe time spent on something that hurt us; changes we didn't make; opportunities we allowed to pass. Our world is focused on looking youthful and I believe this is because we feel frightened that life is passing us by without living the life we envisioned. The problem with spending time in regret is that we're unable to move forward to having the life of our dreams. Regret keeps us locked in the past and it's linked to fear. We're afraid of moving forward because even though we hate where we are it's comfortable. Of course I liken that comfort to that of sitting in a dirty diaper. No one would want to do, but many people sit in their stench and refuse to move.
It's funny that the seven deadly sins are anger, lust, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, and greed. Regret is not one of them and I believe it should've been the top. The seven deadly sins can all be used in a positive light. Anger can fuel you to change a situation. Lust (for life and sexuality) can bring about joy and feelings of intense emotion. Gluttony is taking in all that life can bring: the joy, the tastes, the beauty of the world. Sloth allows you to slow down and rest. Pride in who you are drives you to be better and stronger. Envy shows you what you truly want from life. And greed - well maybe we should be greedy about living the best life we can live so that we can give more to others.
But regret - what does that give us. It keeps us held in the past afraid of the future and stuck in our smelly... well you know what.
You have a choice everyday. Stay stuck in the past of regret or move forward to the brilliance of a future yet untold. My priest went on a sabbatical and while there he took a sheet of paper with eighty-four boxes drawn on it. Eighty-four is now the average life span. He then marked off a box for each year of his life. When he looked down and saw that he only had seventeen boxes left he said is was humbling and scary. The question became what he was going to do with the rest of his time.
What are you going to do with the boxes you have left? Achieve something great to put in each one or sit around in situations, relationships, or emotions that don't bring anything to your life? It's your choice.