Have you ever wondered what things you might change if you could just turn back time? I can think of a number of things I would change, and I can think of many things that I would never change too. Things like my husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are definitely in the “I wouldn’t change these things at all” category. My religious beliefs and career choices fall in that category as well. I have lived a blessed life. Of that fact there is not doubt. I had wonderful parents and in-laws, as well as sisters, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews too. My aunts, uncles, and cousins are precious to me. Yes, I have been greatly blessed. In these things, I would never choose to turn back time.
Of course, we have all made mistakes in life. I think the ones that tend to haunt us the most are the things we didn’t say, when we could have. Or we might regret the things we did say, when we might have kept quiet, or said something different. Also, we might regret the time we might have spent with those we care about, but we allowed our busy lives to dictate our time, or the lack thereof. When it pertains to those we love, like parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles, we all have wished that we had spent more time. Of course, as kids, and even as adults, there always seemed to be more time for these things later…until there wasn’t. When they are gone, we finally see just how unimportant that important thing we needed to do, really was. Of course, communication goes both ways, but some people really warrant an extra effort. Unfortunately, they don’t always let us know that they needed more of our time. They don’t want to intrude, I suppose.
If I could turn back time, I would go see my parents and in-laws more than I did. I would call and talk to siblings, siblings-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins more. I have found that for those who are online, Facebook, texting, and Messenger have helped to fill the gaps. For me, it is far easier to text or write things down, because believe it or not, I am a bashful person. I can carry on a conversation, however, and I really should do that, so I don’t regret still another “shoulda, woulda, coulda” later in my life. I guess what I am getting at is that we all need to consider the things that are important to us, and make sure that we pay those important things enough attention. That way, maybe, “If I could turn back time” could be just another song lyrics, and not a personal regret.
Sometimes, when I look at the younger versions of my parents’ pictures, I find that I can see the promise of the future in their eyes. Their young faces reflect the plans they have in mind for where they are going, and how their lives will play out. Some of those plans will come to fruition, and others will not…or maybe those that didn’t, were later deemed not important. Plans and dreams change as time goes on. I suppose that no one really knows how they want every part of their life to go, but as a young married couple, most people have definite ideas of what direction they expect their lives to go.
I wish I had thought to ask my parents about the plans and dreams that were dropped from sight, if they had any regrets, and if they feel like their life is better or worse due to the changed plans and dreams. I don’t really think my parents would have felt that their lives were worse for not having fulfilled some of the dreams they had as young people, but it’s hard to say for sure. I know that there are some times that I look back on a few things I had planned, and wonder if I would have been happier if I had done those things. Of course, after that moment, I look at the life I have and I think, “No, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Even the sad things, are the way they should be.
Young couples tend to have lofty goals and big dreams, and then life gets in the way. There isn’t always time to do some of the things you thought you would. I suppose that is often because the dreams of your children come first, and you always think that you will do those other things later on…when the kids are grown up. Of course, then the grandchildren come on the scene. Before you know it, the plans and dreams you had are so far from your mind that you barely think about them anymore. I suppose you could think of them with regret then, but I don’t think most of us do, because there is always the promise of the future. As long as we are alive, we have the option to dream new dreams, or fulfill the old ones. Life is filled with possibilities, even if some of them seem to be out of reach for now. With the promise of the future comes the reality that the possibilities are endless, if we don’t give up, or change our minds.
We seldom think about what our parents are teaching us until they are gone. Then the lessons come back to mind in floods, bittersweet with regret, because they are gone. The lessons from my dad that I find the most important, are the ones of caring and compassion. My dad was a very forgiving and understanding man, something I am not always able to be, but a goal that I have put in front of myself.
Dad was a problem solver. He had a way of making you feel like everything was going to be ok. No matter what the problem was, Dad could fix it. I can still hear him saying, “Here is what we are going to do.” He always had the answers, and I always knew he could fix anything. Maybe that statement isn’t exactly true, but in my mind it always will be, and I keenly miss that feeling of perfectness my world had those days. Now, there are times that everything is wrong in my world. There is an emptiness I can’t fill, a pain I can’t stop, and loneliness that lives in my core.
You see, my dad and I thought quite a bit alike, and while we did have a tendency to debate many subjects, it was mostly in good fun. I did always know when enough was enough though, because Dad would say, “Don’t argue with me.” Well, that was the point when he was done with our little debate, and I…well, I knew it. It’s funny because my sisters could never believe that I lived through those years. Whenever my dad and I argued, they were sure that I was about to get the “death sentence” because they would never have dared to argue with Dad like that, but I just knew that Dad didn’t mind a good debate, and even relished them to a big degree.
One of the greatest lessons Dad taught us was to live life to the fullest. He loved this great country, and made sure we saw a whole lot of it. When my grade school teachers asked what we did on our summer vacations, I always had an interesting place to tell about. Dad and Mom took us so many places, and we were truly blessed in that. We learned a lot about this great country. My cousin said of my dad after bringing Dad’s brother, his dad, for a visit and looking at all our travel pictures…”Man, he really lived.” And he was so right. Dad really…really lived!!
Have you ever wished you could go back and change the mistakes of the past? We all have, of course, but we can’t. Even if we go to the person and ask forgiveness, it doesn’t change the past. People can’t forget what you did, or who you were, even if you change into someone wonderful…nor can you. You will always have to live with the mistakes of your past. You can never go back and change the things you regret. That moment is gone forever, and we are left with one thing…regret.
When we were needed, did we help out? When we had the chance to show mercy, did we? When we had the chance to lift someone up and give them a better day, did we? When we had the chance to forgive, did we? There are so many opportunities to do the right thing, but so often we are so self absorbed that we can’t see anything but what we want. We think, “Let someone else do it. I’m busy.” The problem with being self absorbed is that all to often when the person is gone, we are left with…regret.
All around us people are saying you should be able to say or do whatever you want. It’s a free country, right? And the reality is that they are right…it is a free country, but there are consequences for your actions, good or bad. So someone made you mad. You feel slighted. And now, you are going to get even, right? Be careful because “getting even” has it’s price and it is called…regret.
Why is it so important that we get even with other people? Why is it always someone elses job to be there when needed? Why…because we have become a people whose only priority is self. We think, “I’m busy. I am important. I have things to do. I refuse to put up with that. I can say whatever I want to. I can do whatever I want to.” And the list goes on. The reality is that, while we can do all of the above, all too often these actions will ultimately leave us with one thing…regret.
So the next time you feel like being selfish and want to say or do something that you might regret, remember that you will have many opportunities to say or do the mean thing you are thinking about, but only one chance to stop the cycle of…regret.