Avoiding Regret

We are driving home and my son tells us about his day spent dwelling on a mistake he made at work. His coworkers keep telling him that it’s no big deal and to stop worrying, he knows it, but feels he somehow deserves to suffer for such a simple mistake. And then he says, “I have to stop living my life through regret.”

It was one of those moments when my heart squeezes tightly and my instinct is to mend with words, “sweet philosophy”. But, I don’t. I’m learning to let go, to sit with the feeling, the sentiment, and just allow it to be aired.

The silence is heavy and I try to slow my mind. It is night and the vehicle moves through the darkness punctuated by street lamps, and lawn lights.

He speaks some more about the day and the air lifts, my heart slows, but this moment gets me thinking about regret. I’m reminded of Ophelia’s floral offerings to Claudius – “There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it ‘herb of grace’ o’ Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.”

Like weeds in any garden, a sense of lost opportunities or sadness for missteps is part of the parenting and teaching experience. I am going to make mistakes. I am going to feel regret for actions taken, for actions not taken. But, my son has it right. I can’t live to avoid regret or live through old regrets. Tending to my emotional garden is intentional and if I am going to bloom along with my students, regret must be culled and controlled.

We pull into the driveway and he shares regrets for not pursuing some of his passions. I tell him, “You should write” and his voice elevates breaking the darkness, “Ya!

I smile and realize it’s Slice of Life Tuesday tomorrow. Time to avoid regret.

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