Do you ever have those moments in your life when you do a “regret check?” Meaning, you look back on the choices you’ve made, or the ones you haven’t, and decide if you have regrets. I think we’ve probably all made choices that we might do differently if we had more wisdom. Maybe you wish you took more risks? Maybe you wish you didn’t let that one great love get away? Maybe you wish you were more responsible? Or more honest? Maybe you wish you didn’t let fear hold you back from chasing your dreams? Or maybe, you just wish you LIVED better. If you’re reading this, then you have air in your lungs and a beating heart. Which means, you still have the ability to LIVE and either rewrite the regrets you never followed through on, or let go of the ones you cannot change.
I was listening to an acoustic version of Lady Gaga’s song “The Edge of Glory” the other day. It’s a song that she wrote for her grandfather who passed away. And as I listened to her soulful vocals, I heard something that I never noticed when playing the radio version of the same song. This time, I listened to the words more carefully. And a few of the lyrics spoke to me as she sang about the final moments of life...
“Another shot before we kiss the other side... I’m on the edge of something final we call life... Put on your shades ‘cause I’ll be dancing in the flames... It isn’t hell if everybody knows my name.”
This was the kind of person who wanted to live big in the moment! A person who wasn’t concerned about being judged for doing something wild, crazy, or maybe even immoral. A person who wasn’t going to live with regrets. Sounds like someone I would like to know. Someone who could teach me a lesson about living. And maybe, I would like to find a little bit of that person in myself.
I typically make safe decisions. I reason out my options and then go with the choice that has the least amount of risk. Except for the time when I went cliff jumping off of a ledge near a lake with a bunch of college friends in the middle of the night. I went because I had a crush on one of the guys. You know that cliched phrase, “If everyone else decided to jump off of a cliff, does that mean you would do it?” Well, I did it. It was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I threw out my back and could have killed myself. All because of a cute boy! It stops my heart every time I think about it. Not the boy. The jump!
But every now and then, I take a leap of faith. I jump outside of my comfort zone. I trust in the unknown. In more recent years, it’s been matters of the heart. And then, it was publishing a book that included some of my most private thoughts and moments in life. I took a shot at loving and living with no regrets.
If someone asked you what your biggest regret in life is, what would you say? If I were to answer that question honestly, I would have to say that I don’t know the answer to it yet. I probably won’t know the answer until my dying day. Sure, I have moments that I would like to take back. Maybe a few love notes I wish I never sent. Or a couple of live television minutes that needed a do-over. But as I write this blog, I’m reminded of someone from my life who has lived many years. And with those years came much wisdom. For most of my professional career, I worked with a man named Fred Griffith. He was an icon in Cleveland television and always offered the perfect words of encouragement when needed. And any time that I agonized over making a mistake, he would say, “It disappears in the act of you doing it.” Fred followed up that phrase with some scientific reasoning. But his point was simply, when it’s done, it’s done.
We all make mistakes in life. And sometimes those mistakes cause us to have regrets. But maybe we need to allow our regrets to disappear along with the act of our mistake. Or maybe we need to act so that we don’t have any regrets.