A Life Without Regret – Quarantine Contemplations
I was twelve years old when I began to understand, after I witnessed a grown woman crying bitterly over something she had done, that regret was something I needed to fear. My preteen mind noted that I had yet to see a person put the word regret and happy in one sentence.
It didn’t help matters that our school teachers threw the term “regret” at us every chance they got. It was, they warned ominously, what we would suffer with if we didn’t work hard. Our future would be ruined, they foresaw, if we didn’t step up; if we allowed our socks to remain at ankle level instead of pulling them up.
From then on I did my best to keep a safe distance between me and it.
“Majuto ni mjukuu” a Swahili saying, made me feel even worse.
Well I am not twelve anymore and I know that life is not always going to work out the way we plan or the way we wish it to. We are going to make some decisions we are going to take steps that will have us exclaiming later: “what was I thinking?!” Hindsight, after all, is twenty twenty. You live you learn.
I have done things I have regretted but I regret more about the things I didn’t do than the ones that I did.
Regret, I have come to learn, works as a double edged sword. It can scare you into inaction: “What if I do A and then regret that I didn’t do B?” Better not do anything then.
Or, on the positive side, it can free you to ‘leap afraid’ as Lisa Nichols puts it. It can push you over the ledge of your comfort zone to sample adventures you wouldn’t have otherwise gone after.
One of the blessings of being in lockdown is the gift of time. Time to think; to wonder about what you have been foolishly taking for granted. You have no choice but to scrutinise yourself (because hey, you don’t have ‘busyness’ to hide behind) You find find yourself dissecting life with surgical precision.
While I can’t wait for life to get back to “normal” I am grateful to lockdown and social distancing for what it has given me: time and clarity.
A Time For Gathering
I take nothing for granted these days. Considering how unpredictable life is it would be foolish to do so.
Therefore as soon as it is declared safe, I am throwing a party for and with my dearest ones. As much as we hate to think about it- someone we know and love will suddenly die. Recently, my closest friend lost her uncle in just such a manner. One minute he was having his supper and the next he was gone.
I don’t want to regret not spending time with my loved ones so I am getting ready to, Allah Willing, host a group of people.
Just because I love and appreciate them.
Show and Tell
I am not going to wait for lockdown to end to tell my loved ones I love and appreciate them. I will tell them often and without shame or embarrassment.
For some reason, we have a difficult time telling our loved ones how we feel about them. Perhaps it feels forced or perhaps we feel vulnerable revealing our feelings or perhaps we prefer to show rather than tell them. As touching as gift giving is it can’t beat words spoken from the heart. I don’t know of anyone who didn’t bloom under consistent appreciation and acknowledgment.
I don’t want to wake up one morning and realise I had moments I could have expressed my feelings and I let them go to waste.
I don’t want to look back and think ‘I wish I had told her how special she is before she died or left.”
I will embrace the concept of ‘leave nothing unsaid’ with my loved ones.
My Honest Opinion
I will tell people what I truly think and feel. Not what they want to hear. Not what they believe I should say. I know this will probably lose me some friends and make me unpopular but I am choosing to believe that if I matter to them then my honesty will only strengthen our relationships. I don’t want to think of a situation and berate myself for not speaking my truth. For as long as I say what I mean without saying it meanly.
I don’t want to regret not being honest- it will save me years of seething and resentment. I am not kidding myself that it is going to be simple or straightforward but it is worth it.
A worthy investment
You know you have to invest in yourself. You know you are worth it or maybe you need convincing. Nevertheless, you know you must make time for that Quraan course you have been meaning to take; for exercise, for moments of silence and contemplation, for whatever you know you will benefit greatly from. But you don’t do it. You don’t put in the time, don’t set aside the funds for it, don’t make the phonecall that could change your life.
Well, I, for one, don’t want to look back a year or five from now and think ‘I wish I had started.’
I AM A WORTHY INVESTMENT AND SO ARE YOU.
Heart felt appreciation
We so often get lost and distracted seeking what is out there that we forget to see what is right in front us that is more precious than we realise. So I will teach myself to appreciate everything here and now.
What are we waiting for? I, for one, have crossed off all the ‘shoulda’ in my life list. I will wonder at everything now, be present now, enjoy, be me.
I refuse to wear the face of doom and despair, I am alive, I have my faith and that in itself is priceless.
We only appreciate something when it has been taken from us. But by then it usually is too late. We keep postponing happiness and joy until we get that degree, get married, have that baby, travel, earn big money. Only to realise, sometimes too late, that we had everything we needed but just couldn’t see it.
So go ahead. Be present. Take risks. Show up. Fail more. Appreciate. Because remember you don’t want to look back and think :
” I had the chance and I didn’t take advantage of it.”
What are you going to do so that you suffer no regrets later? Share in the comments below!