Friday, April 17, 2015


Picture of flower with the following text superimposed: If you can look back on your life without regrets, then you have not looked closely enough. | Wynn Anne's Meanderings
I realize this sounds like a joke, but I am serious.
If you tell me you have no regrets, I can only conclude that you are either arrogant or have an unexamined life.

Because we all make mistakes. We are human. To my mind, if you have no regrets, it means that you have never looked back at your choices and honestly said, I wish I had done differently. Or you've never had the strength to gain that insight.

I don't mean this in a guilt-inducing or shaming way. I write this, rather, to encourage you to live an "examined" life.

For example, I regret that I allowed the rift between my mother and me to drag on as long as it did.

But I don't regret insisting that I needed that distance. I had been deeply hurt and needed to heal before I could consider restoring any kind of relationship. There were times during that 20-year period when I, or my children, were just barely holding our own heads above water.

There were things I needed to learn and discover before I could be ready to meet my mother where she was. To meet her with love, not judgment or anger or any other caustic emotion.

I say this not as an excuse, but as explanation. I don't feel I need any excuse or forgiveness, but I do beg your understanding.

I repeat: I do regret that I let the estrangement last as long as it did. If I'd been paying attention, I was ready to rejoin her much sooner. Not a lot, maybe a year or two, but I wish I had not waited for this crisis, for her sake, for mine, and for my siblings' and children's sake.

I have other regrets with different, arguably lesser, consequences: selling the house I loved when we moved to Colorado; spending more than I earned when I was at the peak of my earning; not taking my diabetes seriously when I was first diagnosed. I regret throwing a hard-boiled egg at my daughter, in anger. (I am my mother's daughter.)

If we don't look back and examine our choices -- and the consequences of those choices -- then how can we ever learn? How can we do differently when similar choices come along?

I don't know that I agree with Socrates (as quoted by Plato) that "the unexamined life is not worth living," but I do believe that the honestly examined life is well worth living.

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