Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
One of my favourite bloggers, Peter, wrote a very thought provoking article today about Forgiveness. Do go and read it first, I will wait for you to return.
Did you enjoy it? I very much did. It struck a chord in me.
Today I was thinking about forgiveness, and forgiving ones self, which led me to think about past mistakes.
We have all made decisions in our life that we have later regretted. Some decisions are life-changing, some are merely ones to be looked back on with regret, or with sorrow.
I am generally an optimistic person, a glass-half-full type of woman. If you were to ask me about regrets, then I would have to quote Edith Piaf
When I was in high school, we read , Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder. I have not read it since, until I searched for it to write this post, but the idea stuck in my mind, that changing the past could change the future in ways we could never forsee.
The decisions that I made in life are part of my life, and if I were to change or alter one part of my past, then my life would be altered.
I wish I had studied different subjects at school, I wish I had studied journalism, I wish I had gone to university. I wish my guidance teachers had been more useful and had actually guided me.
Do I regret not doing these things? Not really, because the decisions that I made brought me here. Instead of going to Uni, I went on a GAP year, before GAP years were popular. I called it a “not sure what I want to do but sure I don’t want to go to Uni for the sake of it year”. My mum called it “avoiding getting a proper job year” and sent me the prospectus of Universities. I spent two years trying to work out what I actually wanted to do before deciding to go to Germany as an aupair. More to get my mum off my back and give me another year before I had to get a proper job.
I met my husband on my first day in Germany, and life took me down a very different path.
Now, some 20 years later I am returning to that original plan and looking for ways to earn my living as a writer. The experiences that I have gathered along the way means that the work I do now is very different to anything I wrote when I was a teenager. I am more confident and mature, more willing to take a chance, to leap into the unknown and to try something new.
Youth is wasted on the young, I have heard it said.
Recently we were enjoying a meal in a restaurant in Germany when a group of young people passed through from their conference room to the bar. I have no idea what conference they were attending, but they were all in their early twenties, extremely smartly dressed, carrying smart phones and briefcases. Young entrepreneurs of some sort, it appeared to us. We smiled at their youth, their exuberance, their shiny fresh faces. I know this makes me sound ancient, and I am aware that in another 20 years, I will look back at this post fondly as I reflect on all that I have learned since.
Man lernt nie aus
Literally translated this means, “One never stops learning”, but in English we would likely say, “Live and learn”.
The regrets of today are the lessons of tomorrow. Accepting and forgiving the decisions made in the past is important because it enables us to learn from them, and to move on. If we get stuck in “What if” and “If only” then we stifle our creativity and hinder our progress into the future.
Which brings me to Steve Jobs. Someone on Twitter linked to this video a while ago, and it has been on my mind since. I am trying to put this into practice, to turn my love of writing into a career. Whether as freelance journalist, as editor of Jump! Mag, as writer, copywriter, as German-English translator… there are a dozen ways of making money from writing and I am going to try and find one that suits me.
You Gotta Act
I agree – we are who we are because of what has or hasn’t gone before, so what’s the point of regretting the past? I sometimes find myself wishing I was at a different stage of life/doing something completely different but actually deep down I know I’m in the right place for me, right now.
I love the Steve Jobs video – so true. You’ve gotta act. You don’t ask, you don’t get.
It is good when you have found that moment of contentedness and are able to value it.
Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs knew how to inspire people to be more than they imagined they could be.
I loved this post. Always good to know I’m not alone! 🙂
I love this. Am really tempted to get away with husband and son for a mad trip somewhere. I also need to get over things I wish I had done. The two go hand in hand though – I don’t want to regret doing nothing any more than the things I did do.
That is true. Letting go of regrets means the things that we did and the opportunities we did not take. A GAP year with family sounds fabulous – I have been chatting on Twitter to two women who have either done or are planning this.