I love quotes. Seriously. I write them all over my bathroom mirror (as previously mentioned in my post about some of my favorite things). I love finding a cute quote to make into a little graphic to share on Facebook at work (lots of home quotes there!). I have Quotables cards from the late nineties from when I worked in a card/gift/stationary store in high school because I loved the quotes on them so much.
I do find it amusing that these quotes that I have often loved, mean different things to me at different points in my life. I have one that is quoting a small kid, saying “People are supposed to make mistakes. That’s why we have erasers.” When I was still in my teens and even in my very early twenties, this always made me think about how we could “fix” our mistakes, in effect erasing errors in judgement or just blithely carrying on after an incident, effectively sweeping it under the mental rug. Now, I ponder the fact that immediately after some sort of fall out, accident, relationship explosion or just flat out mistake, most of us probably would like to immediately rectify the situation and erase it. But, much like pencils (or erasable ink pens), even after you erase, some stroke impressions and residue remain on the page. Especially for me – I am what was referred to back in my elementary school days as “hard presser”. I all about ripped through the page in writing with pencil. I’ve learned a lighter touch since then, but still find that my mistakes leave a permanent impression in my life. That’s a good thing. That’s how I’ve learned from my mistakes. I learned that far from the world ending because I messed up, it was just a chance to become a smarter and better person. Plus, you know, that whole thing about the world not revolving around me.
I’ve heard people say that regrets are stupid. I don’t know that I agree. I think regrets are a part of the evolutionary process that is learning. They do not mean that I regret the outcomes of my choices. However, I’ll regret, at times, how I handled something in a given moment. Those are the times I wish the eraser could come out so I could chosen the kinder, gentler, more sympathetic or clear thinking aspects of myself to be present. Instead, I carry the regret, the close cousin of learning, forward and hope that the next time a situation presents itself that I give myself a minute to breathe. To feel. To think. Then to speak. And then, finally, act.
Looking back, I am hardly overburdoned with regrets. I do not wish to take an eraser to large swathes of my life, leaving a gray smudge where there was once chaos and action. I embrace my mistakes and my failures as much as my triumphs and wins. These things are all part of who we are as individuals and learning life. Those decisions and outcomes brought me to where I stand today. They will influence the choices I make in the future. I’ve got those few pebbles of regret in my pocket to remind me, now and again, of the past. Of what I’ve learned. I’m OK that.