As the chill of winter descends upon us, we are reminded that another year is drawing to a close. For individuals who have been romanced by regret, barren trees and early darkness signal a season of discontent; they look back on the year that has passed and mourn what could have been in the warmer, light-filled days.
Honestly, I believe all of us have been tempted to wallow in regret. We look back over a year that started with so much hope and promise, only to feel like the seasons were wasted on dreams that never landed in the realm of reality.
Regret is a dangerous foe with crippling affects. It can paralyze possibilities, initiate depression and cause you to be fearful of venturing out into uncharted waters. There have been times in my life when it felt like I could not break free from the clutches of regret and, in those anxious moments, I found myself constantly lamenting what was lost-lost time, lost opportunity, lost relationships, lost people, lost days.
I soon discovered that my problem was that I was living in my “yesterday”; I was so consumed by the time that had already passed that I was not living in my present. Days were passing me by because I was grieving over days that were already dead. That was not living. That was dying a slow death.
Albert Einstein once said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Too many of us find ourselves dying because we are living in yesterday and the yesterday we are living in is filled with tainted memories.
It is easy to get lost in yesterday’s sorrow, but the key to rebelling against regret is remembering that when yesterday gives you a hundred reasons to cry, today can give you a thousand reasons to smile. There will be no hope for tomorrow if you continually try to perform emotional CPR on a dead past. Learn from the past, but live for today.
One of my favorite movies is “The Shawshank Redemption.” Andy Dufresne, the main character, spent 19 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. During those 19 years, Andy was digging a tunnel to escape. The day before Andy was to make his great escape, he told Red, his best friend in prison, that in life “you either get busy living or get busy dying.” Andy believed that his escape from prison was necessary if he was going to live.
Maybe Andy’s words ring true for those who find themselves living in prisons of regret today: Get busy living or get busy dying. Living in regret over what has been is death business, but learning to live for today is the greatest investment you can make for tomorrow.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote: ” Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. It’s been that way all this year.” Get busy living!