I woke this morning, too early. My fitness tracker buzzed me; my Traveling Partner reached out in the wee hours, checking in, not feeling well. I drift in and out of a light sleep for another few minutes, simultaneously relieved and regretful that we’re not in this same space… I would do what I could to provide comfort and care (that’s the regret; I am too far away for that)… but… I’m also glad that my own rest was not disturbed through the night by his discomfort. Yep. Very human.

I’m not hard on myself about the regrets I have in life. I mean…. not anymore. I used to be the one boldly and firmly asserting I had no regrets. Well… snarling it, really, as if I had something to prove. Funny that “regret” is something we seem to look poorly upon, as if there were no opportunity to learn from our regrets. How do I offer a sincere and heartfelt apology if I am not able to acknowledge and regret my error? It’s an odd emotion to discourage, is it not?

No regrets? Really??

I frankly regret tons of stuff – mostly small things. I regret every time I’ve hurt someone’s feelings with careless words. That’s one of my most common regrets. I regret the pleasant moments I overlooked because I was more invested in pissing and moaning about something else, that mattered less. I regret every affectionate embrace I was too awkward to welcome, and all the ones I was too self-conscious to offer. I regret severed connections, and lost friendships – whether or not it was the wiser choice. Those are generally the sorts of things I do regret. I’m not the slightest bit uncomfortable with admitting to regret – if I didn’t regret those things, what would it say about who I am?

You know what I don’t “regret”? I don’t regret being human. I don’t regret that I have some quirks and limitations that may not be immediately obvious to the world, day-to-day. I don’t regret that it has taken many years (decades) and many relationships to find my way to this place in life where I am mostly pretty able to adult for myself with fair skill. I don’t regret not having it all. I don’t regret not being the prettiest, the smartest, the fittest, the sexiest, the richest… I don’t see those as things to regret. (How much misery in the world is caused by our creating a “best” characteristic, placing it on a pedestal, and saying “there can be only one!” Never even giving ourselves a chance to just be?)

Regret gives me a moment to appreciate a better path, and to calibrate my personal intent with my real-life actions, choices, and behavior. Regret reminds me to keep up on the housework (I definitely regret it when I find I’ve allowed things to become untidy). Regret reminds me to choose kinder words, and gentler behavior. Regret asks me to consider my choices with greater care. Regret nudges me to book a camping reservation, buy concert tickets, and make time for my friends – because the alternative is regretting that I have not lived my life.

This morning I pause for a moment of regret. I’m okay with that. 🙂 I also pause for a moment of appreciation, a moment of gratitude, a moment of joy. Life is rich with moments. It’s a lovely morning, and it’s enough. My moments of regret keep me focused on where I am headed as I begin again. 🙂