Ah youth: endless, carefree days – adventure!
Ah advancing age: clocks ticking – the blessings and curse of hindsight.
If you knew then, what you know now, would you have chosen differently? In many instances – Of course you would have! The examples are legion:
Would you have stocked up on drinking water, emergency meals and batteries before the roads and stores were destroyed, had you known? Of course!
Would you have tried to save your own marriage, had you known earlier that wise marriage advice you sought out for a friend? Of course!
Would you have created better balance between work and family life, had you known earlier the grief it would cause your family? Of course!The curse of hindsight is the way we beat ourselves up over things in the past which we think might have had a better outcome had we done something differently.
The blessing of hindsight is that we can learn from it for the future, so that we don’t make the same mistake over again.
The mark of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome.
Sometimes there is grace and goodness even in things that didn’t turn out as we hoped they might. In her eighties my mother underwent surgery for new heart valves. When wondering if she should do this, one of the things we heard was that it might improve her memory and reduce her confusion as she would get more oxygen to the brain. Well, the surgery didn’t have that outcome, but it gave her quite a few more years that meant her youngest grandchild got a chance to know her and all of us got the blessing of more time together and more memories to hang onto. My mom would tell me of the blessings of having good visits with friends and family, of learning new things, of another new day; and oh how she enjoyed one more opportunity to go out for a ride and an ice cream cone.
I have lost a few close friends over the years because I was unable to keep my mouth shut. I said what I thought and didn’t give much, if any, thought to how it would be received. I have also been hurt by friends who did the same thing or who made gross generalizations that were hurtful. While you can’t undo the past, you can work to improve your future. Hence my various blog posts about being careful of the way in which we speak so that we welcome rather than create barriers. You can’t change minds or hearts when you slam a door in someone’s face. I am better, but not cured. I still, from time to time, open my mouth and insert foot. I still have a short fuse and say words I wish I could take back. But I am a work in progress, and like to think that I am learning from my mistakes.The past is the past. Learn from it, but don’t live in it.
Celebrate each new day with thanksgiving and the opportunities another sunrise brings.
Reach out, give compliments, hold hands, say I love you, laugh a lot.
Finally, remember one last thing: it isn’t up to us. No matter how good we are, how well we learn from the past, no matter how sparkling our lives become – we are not perfect, nor ever will be. There is ultimately but one place to leave the coulda, woulda, shouldas of life – in prayer before God. He can redeem and wash clean what we can not. Amazing grace! Another day – Thanks be to God!