Regrets? I’ve had a few. Old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra, sure knew how to say it better than me, but then he got to live his life “My Way.” I have done a lot of things in my life. I got to thinking about these things while reading a great book by a fellow named Thomas Merton called “No Man Is an Island.”
After you read his writing for a while, you start to get the idea that if you have done things that you aren’t proud of in your life, you should ask for some forgiveness. If you don’t get straight with whatever it was, you will be destined to be guilt ridden. Regret is such a small word for the damage it can bring. It doesn’t matter whatever it is you have done.
The other night I watched as some guy on TV was asking a young lady about her life and whether she had any regrets. I thought to myself, “I’m glad he didn’t ask me that question.” He was watching her as she tried to remember sometime in the past if she had done something she knew, at that point, she was going to regret. In her case, it did no good as she passed away the same night that she admitted some of her actions or deeds were regretful and she was very repentant.
It was just a TV show and so I got tired of the confessions of the remorseful actors and picked up this book to read, I didn’t look back. The book was a gift that had been given to me at some time in the past from a person who believed I should read it. I don’t know if that person was correct. I had almost put it back down when I noticed that some of the chapters were getting familiar and could have been written for me.
I have been really thinking a lot lately about my mortality and praying that I might have a much closer relationship with my God. Do you ever think of the things you may have done or said in the past? I don’t want to cast aspersions, but I know the older I get and the more friends I see, I am very regretful of some of the things I have done in the past. Not to these people, but to myself for following a path that requires not regret, but a path that celebrates our relationship with others. This book reminded me that we are not just here for ourselves, but to make the life of someone close a much more meaningful life.
Then I received a phone call from my older brother, who lives in western Idaho, that my younger brother was under hospice care at a home in another city about 20 miles away. He had been stricken with cancer quite some time ago when he lived in Wasco. He had to have a bunch of exploratory surgery and had to wear this hood deal where he couldn’t turn his head or look down. But he just kept fighting, and although he had been given a short time to be with us, he has stretched that to about six years.
I hate to put regret as a subject, but as I grow older I seem to need forgiveness for some of the really stupid things that I have done in my past. My brother got too close to drugs that messed up his life and I’m sure he is asking for relief from the pain he has caused and regretful for the actions of many years ago. One must remember that we are not here to make our lives richer on the outside but through our actions to make the lives of those around us more meaningful.
I remember the ’80s where regretful things were presented daily and it was just a matter of picking the least harmful road to travel. I had a beautiful daughter by this time and I sure didn’t want her to think her pop was so shallow that he would succumb to these distractions that happened just about every day. She was young but very aware of everything that was happening around her.
Thank goodness that she and I survived those years. Anytime I ever did anything that might have hurt someone, I made sure that I made it right with them. I have written letters to some individuals that I may have hurt unintentionally. The thoughts that are running through my mind are things that I did or condoned when I was a young man still living at home with my parents.
I’m not talking about terrible words or actions I am ashamed of. My parents, who taught their boys using stories of the Bible, were good examples of how to treat people. They were quick to respond to something I might have done that was honestly teenage experiences that led one way or another. The punishment was not harsh or excessive just appropriate for the situation.
I think about these things that bother me now that I am watching my children grow older. I have sat down with my sons and my daughter and had conversations about how they unintentionally could do or say something that may not bother them now. However, one must be thoughtful at all times, of their deeds and words as they grow older. I have great faith that they will cause no pain.