Regret. A feeling of remorseful longing. We tend to feel regret when we let an opportunity pass. Opportunities are rare and when one appears on our horizon, if we don't make a quick decision to move ahead, we often "lose" the opportunity. But regret can come on the heels of risk as well. And risk and opportunity go hand-in-hand.
Risk is sometimes harder to accept than regret--and that's the trade-off we make when we allow ourselves--regardless of the influence of others--to deny our own truths. What truths, you may ask? That truth over there--the one you thought of in 1992 sometime around March--it was a revelation, an epiphany that would have changed your life--and you just let it go because the risks seemed greater than the rewards. Now, 19 years later, you still wonder, "What if...?"
The silence that comes after such a question is deafening. It rings of loneliness--the kind that stems from denial.
We tend to isolate ourselves through self-sabotage for a variety of deep psychological reasons, not the least of which is self-punishment for invisible crimes we feel we committed. This kind of self-sabotage and punishment is the biggest enemy of opportunity--it's why most of us never live to see our fifteen minutes of fame. It's also why we live to feel terrible regret.
You don't have to live a long life before regret creeps into the corners of your otherwise peaceful mind. We call these moments "mistakes" for lack of a better word. By using a word like "mistake" it makes it sound as if the loss is forgivable. At least on the surface. On the inside, we begin to punish ourselves by dwelling on that regret until it's all we can think about. This devalues the good things we have in our lives already, like a rewarding career or a love-relationship.
My son asked me the other day, "Mom, are you happy with your life?" I have to admit to being taken aback for a moment when he asked. Yes, I am happy with my life, with who I am, and what I've done to help others--the fierceness with which I love and protect family and friends--but there's also a great deal of regret. A great deal. And as overwhelming as that tidal-wave-like epiphany from 1992 may be--regret is more along the lines of a tsunami.
The ultimate results of taking risk--even if muddled by difficulty--can be amazingly good...great, even. And though the ultimate results of not taking a particular risk are shadowed in the folds of time, the regret you'll eventually feel when you deny what you know to be true for you--even if it's not true for others--can be amazingly horrid.
Don't deny your truth--take the risk. Open yourself up to opportunity. This is a journey--it's not about seeking the path of least resistance. If it were, a healthy, uninterrupted human life wouldn't take decades upon decades to complete--it would be more like the lifespan of a swamp gnat. And so would our emotional range.
Life itself is an opportunity that not everyone gets to have or keep. But having life isn't always enough.
That's where INTEGRITY comes in....