Author: Catherine Pulsifer, ©2005
My Grandfather – He was a great man kind and considerate and a real pleasure to be around. He was, after all, the epitome of the image of a grandfather. He would play with his grandchildren, would do all sorts of funny things that did not seem to bother a man like the teacup parties, or playing on the floor.
Living With Regret
But, he lived with regrets from years before that kept haunting him over and over. I did not know anything about his regrets as a child for those kinds of things are far outside the vision of a young child.
You see, his past life long before I came to know him as a grandfather was filled with bouts of alcohol to the point where he became an alcoholic. As I came to know, he regretted his former lifestyle, a lifestyle that neglected his wife and family.Thankfully, he did reform and became a non-drinker. But he always felt regret for his years of drinking.
We All Make Them
We all have made mistakes in the past – no one is born or lives as a saint. The difference among people with regrets is not only how serious these transgressions were, but what has been done since to recover or change, and to move forward with a new appreciation of life and all it gives.
Regrets – we have them. If only we hadn’t engaged in a certain behavior, or if only we hadn’t lead a certain lifestyle, or, if only we hadn’t been so soon to jump to a conclusion.
“If only” are two words that have resounded throughout time but two words that, for the most part, can be turned to a more positive view, a more positive lifestyle, or a more gracious and thankful person. In the case of my grandfather, as I grew older and could understand more about life, I had a short conversation about his regrets because of his drinking.
As I started to talk with him, I mentioned how much he meant to me – his kindness, his ability to make life’s events a little less critical, and his quick wit and infectious laugh. I told him he was no longer like he was – he had changed, and changed for the better.
I didn’t seem to get through to him initially, so I continued on. “Grandpa, I can only tell you that guilt without remorse is wrong, but to carry guilt after you have changed and become a much better person, is to live in the past.”
We cannot change the past – the past is history. It doesn’t mean we should just shrug our shoulders about out past mistakes and carry on in the same old way. It does mean, however, that we recognize that not only are our former actions in the past, but that our new self and its associated behaviors is how we live now and into the future.
To live with regret is to be mired in the past and a past that cannot be changed in anyway. No matter how much you may think that recounting issues that have caused you problems over the last few years, it will not help you to move towards creating a better or a new life.
The way forward from now on is to start looking at yourself closely to decide what you want to be, what you want your life to stand for. Your view of what it is you desire to be like is the same as creating a roadmap to follow. Without knowing where you want to go, you will end up nowhere.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” Mercedes Lackey
“Live in the present tense, facing the duty at hand without regret for the past or worry over the future.” William de Witt Hyde
“I don’t dwell in the past; I don’t wallow in old events and emotions. I don’t waste time on regret. No use going over and over the details of what already happened.” Yanni
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