If I could do life all over, I would.
Not really for myself. I don’t enjoy my career, and I don’t like where I live, but I’m better off than I deserve. I have better friends than I deserve. And I am happy having my own existence, doing my own thing, seeing things that only I will have a memory of. Usually, when I make the mistake of looking back, I want a do over so that I can be more helpful.
The movie “Cast Away” has a poignant section for me. Tom Hanks’ character Chuck remarks:
“I knew…somehow. That I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing, even though there was no reason to hope. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And then one day the tide came in and gave me a sail. And now here I am. I’m back. I’m here in Memphis. Talking to you. I have ice in my glass…And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly.
But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. And I keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring.”
Chuck realizes that he could have made better decisions. The lives of others aren’t as good as they could have been because of his past decisions. He has lost years of life that he’ll never get back, and cost others things—including grief—that humans simply have no way to measure, except to say that it’s a staggering amount.
But who knows what the tide could bring. Without having gone through the process that cost him so much, Chuck never would have appreciated not only what he had, but what he might have in the future. The old Chuck had to be destroyed, and there is always a cost—a value of relationship, mind, and soul—which is exacted in such exchanges.
It is the dawning of a soul’s ability to feel pain on behalf of others, even through regret, which signifies the most valuable of changes—that of being cut to the quick, and exposed to the value of others through pain.
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”
—Henry David Thoreau
With love, always,