I rediscovered this post while I was thinking ahead to my 70th birthday, which is today, and while I was again thinking about Willow The Best Dog There Was™ who departed this life on my birthday two years ago, forever merging the day I entered this world with the loss of my dearest friend of fur. (Thanks Tom Groenfeldt for the ancient photo of me and my girl.)
The post below was posted March 11, 2020, with a somewhat out-of-focus photo of Willow looking a tad anxious. We only had slightly more than a year left together, though we didn’t know that, but I am glad I took the time to savor our time and love that old pup with all my heart.
Anyway, it seems like the sentiment works for a 70th birthday, so without further ado, I turn the microphone over to slightly younger me:
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We spend a lot of time thinking back about what happened, what could or “should” have happened, missteps made, things that didn’t get done that could have made things better, things that did get done that seem to have made things worse.
We all know something about regrets and second-guessing. If only I’d taken steps to get out of that situation long before I did; if only I’d stayed and toughed it out … if only I’d saved my money instead of spending it or going into debt … if only I’d said something; if only I’d kept my mouth shut … if only I’d carved out time to write that book; if only I’d written a better one … if only I’d done something when I had the chance; if only I hadn’t done what I did …
What’s important to know is that regrets burn a lot of energy, and second-guessing wastes a lot of precious time.
There will always be books that could have been written by now, thoughts that could have been shared, words and actions that can’t be taken back. Every life, every day, is packed with what could have happened but for whatever reason never has.
What happened before is finished and done, and every minute spent despairing about How Little Time Is Left To Do What I Could Have Been Doing All Along is a minute that could be spent doing. Tuck those regrets in a safe place and move on.
Do what’s left to do with the time that’s left. Write the novel, sing the song, build the fence, clean the storage room, read the books, reread the best ones and the most fun ones. But let go of the regrets.
Live the life that’s left: It’s all we can do anyway.