Occasionally I am overcome with regret. Yes, I know that it’s fruitless. Indeed, one of the greater pieces of wisdom I’ve ever encountered is that “happiness is giving up all hope of having a better past.” Nonetheless, I occasionally get hooked into a mental encounter with Regret.
It’s important to learn from past mistakes. I couldn’t begin to see a future re-investing in some of the foolishness that I’ve embraced in the past. However, learning something and retaining the memory of the lesson is far different from wallowing in wishing that things hadn’t been that way. Nonetheless, Regret will often persist – despite my best effort and most logical defense.
Sometimes Regret leads me into a state of anger. I’ve long since given up on being angry at “the other person”. Even if the regretful situation wasn’t my making or fault, any anger in the present moment at the memory of someone from the past is a fully losing proposition. Perhaps I become angry at Life at large, or one of the turns it’s taken. Most likely, when I look deeply, I’m angry at myself.
The beginning of seeing myself clear, freeing myself from this burden, appears to be in taking full responsibility for my actions, so eloquently embodied in this Buddhist aphorism:
All my ancient twisted karma,
From beginningless greed, hate and delusion,
Borne through body, speech and mind,
I now fully avow.
In other words, all that stuff that I did: yes, I did it. However, it does not have to own me, not now. What I really want is a clear and meaningful day, today.