It is an awful, feeling. That terrible knot in the gut, the sinking feeling, the close-your-eyes-throw-your-head-back while taking a deep breath, holding it in and gritting your teeth while you think 'oh my god I was SUCH an idiot'. Those moments in life that you wish you could do over. We all have those. We beat ourselves up. In fact, I have little doubt that each of us possesses the inherent gift of being our own worst critic.
The moments of regret which punctuate life are as inevitable as breathing itself. I'm no psychologist but I would say that it is just part of 'the human condition'. It is a personal shame suffered in silence, wherein a combination of pride an self preservation combine to keep it internal and intensely personal, regardless of the knowledge that every other being on the planet experiences exactly the same phenomena.
But this kind of regret about which I have previously written and is not the topic on this particular day. Funny that it comes to life in my consciousness days before the milestone commonly known as a birthday. When one observes this yearly remembrance of his existence, it seems to be equally part of the human condition to spend some time in refection - looking to and fro in self examination. The past and the future considered from one moment in time called the present. But it is not static because one's perspective of his past can change as a result of both internal and external influences. My view of the choices I made in my 20's evolves as I mature, learn things about myself and my world, and accepting the fact that I merely played the hand I was dealt to the best of my ability.
Do I have regrets? Absolutely. Not at all. I'm not sure.
Andy Rooney, the American writer best known for his curmudgeonly way of putting words and giving validation to the thoughts of so many 'average people' has died at the age of 92. He managed to squeeze every last bit he could out of life, and while 'retiring' a mere month before his passing, I have little double that he worked, as any real writer would be compelled to do, right up until his final day on this earth. His last on air interview managed to compact 92 years into 13 minutes and 7 seconds and of that, my 'light bulb' moment occured during about 30 seconds. Asked what he would do if he had his life to live over, Andy Rooney replied, without hesitation: "If I had my life to live over, I'd be on television, I'd get on 60 Minutes if I could, and I'd do a piece every week of my own. I'd write it and I'd say it. And that's what I do best."
He lived his life, sorry, as in apologetic, for certain small moments, for certain errors in judgement, for mistakes he made which may have hurt or offended others as is the case for any person of conscience. But in the grand scheme of things he lived a life without regret.
Wow. I have to think long and hard about whether I can speak the same way with conviction. Better yet, I need to consider all that I do, beginning today, to live a life with purpose such that during my final interview, I will be able to stand at that singular point in time where there is no looking forward, and look back on a life without regret.