Today as I do research for the work-for-hire book assignment I’ve accepted, I’m trying to keep this quote in mind:
Regret of neglected opportunity is the worst hell that a living soul can inhabit.
~ Rafael Sabatini
I hope ol’ Rafael was right, because I’m currently experiencing some hefty regret over taking this assignment. There’s a slight comfort in thinking the alternative may have resulted in an even worse hell.
When I saw this photo I took yesterday, I interpreted it as a scrub jay looking ahead. But as I view it today, I’m reminded that birds don’t get caught up in regrets and what-ifs the way humans do. This wise jay is probably merely existing in the moment.
I’m trying to do the same.
On Saturday we held a life celebration for my father-in-law.
I’d written something to be shared, printing it out in a large font to make it easier for the family friend who was facilitating the event to read: (Memory to share at Stu’s celebration)
I was teary as soon as I walked into the meeting hall, so when the facilitator asked if I wanted him to read my piece or if I preferred to do it myself, I hesitated. I didn’t want to regret not speaking, but I also did not want to fall apart in front of a roomful of people. We agreed to hold off on that decision until the time came.
The ceremony began and I had already accumulated a pile of damp tissues when my nine-year-old niece came up to the podium. Her father brought over a chair for her to stand on so she could reach the microphone, and then she took a deep breath before proceeding to read the thank-you letter she and her two sisters had written for their grandfather. The words she spoke were beautiful and funny and heartfelt, and I cried some more (as did Wildebeest, Zebu, and Zippy).
When she stepped down to a spontaneous round of applause, the facilitator turned to me. Without hesitation I stood, telling him that if my niece could be brave, so could I.
I’d like to say that I read my words in a clear, steady voice and that I maintained eye contact with the audience. I’d also like to say that all the family members caught my inside jokes and laughed. But that’s not how it went. However, I didn’t melt into a complete puddle and I did make it through what I intended to say. Thanks to a petite nine-year-old girl who showed me the way.
Life’s too short for regrets.