Regretting no regrets

I apologize. I am about to offend the better sensibilities of the feel-good crowd. People who live by the phrase “no regrets” are fools. Still, that is rather politically correct to the depths of how I feel.

Regrets are good. They tell us that we realize our own imperfection — we are all, after all, imperfect — and our failing of some standard to which we hold ourselves. Regrets recognize the disparity between what we believe we ought to do and what we have done.

Those who believe in having no regrets seem to necessarily fall into one of three categories: apathetic, egocentric, or myopic. To have no regrets, you must not care about the people you interact with, consider yourself superior to others, or be blind to the impact of your actions. I imagine that anyone would find such a life untenable, certainly unworthy.

I have many regrets. I am not perfect and I know it. I have not acted perfectly and I know it. I don’t think — I hope — I am alone in such a feeling. Regrets are lanterns to the darkness of past failures. With them, we may light our way to avoid the roots and snares we fell to before.

Important it is to say that I don’t advocate living in the past either. We have to move forward. We cannot let regrets become one of the very snares they may help us to avoid.

But that does not negate the positive nature of regrets. Any one who cares for another, loves them, will have regrets. Any one who is bold enough to act will have regrets. Any one who is wise will have regrets for missteps. Regrets are endemic to the selfless, the bold, the wise.

Live brightly your passion and love. Fall down and regret your failings. Then get up and march onward, better for the scars that map a new day.

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