The other day I was driving down the street and saw a man who may have been in his forties or fifties, had long, greasy-looking, scraggly hair, and huge bags under his eyes. And I mean HUGE bags under his eyes. The guy I saw looked neither happy nor very clean. I know nothing about this man but his appearance (and whether we like it or not, we are all judged by our appearance), but he seemed to me to be a man who looks older than he actually is, he looked 60, but his hair was still brown (and he really didn’t look like the type of person to dye his hair). I imagined that he might look this way because he was an alcoholic so far gone that he didn’t even care about his physical appearance anymore. He was just moseying down the street as if he had nothing better to do and was out of alcohol.
Looking at this poor guy, noticing how ugly (sorry,but he was) and dirty he was and thinking that he was possibly an alcoholic made me wonder about him as a teenager. In high school we are all so young and fresh and beautiful and we have so many hopes and dreams for the future and I doubt that this guy’s dream was to become a homeless-looking alcoholic. If he really was who he seemed to me to be, does he regret the choices he made in his life that got him to where he is now? If he could change one thing in his life what would it be? Maybe it would be taking that first drink at a party when he was 16. Was trying to look cool what started his downward spiral? Maybe making a different choice at that time would have started his life down a different path
Soon I was thinking about what, if anything, I would change if I had the opportunity of a do-over. Would it be to convince my parents that I just HAD to do cheerleading (even though I knew we couldn’t afford it) because then I could have tried out to be the school mascot? I know this sounds petty, but wish I could have done that (it would have been so much fun!) and I regret not being more active and involved when I was young and there were so many opportunities for things like that. Or maybe I would choose to have told THAT person that I forgave them so they wouldn’t spend much of their life thinking I was mad at them. I missed out on a lot of years of that friendship. Would it be to have been more outgoing when I was at a new school so that I would have made more friends and actually enjoyed my junior year of high school?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, like we all have, and I’ve also made some really good choices that I wouldn’t change for anything. But if I could pick just ONE thing to have done differently, what would it be? Thankfully, Christ’s atonement can take away our sins, but what about those life choices that set us on a certain path? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could pick just one thing to change? But would we even want a different path if we could have it, or do our choices-regrettable or not-make things the way they are supposed to be? I’m happy with where I am in my life, would I want my path to be different? I know some people would, but would I?
I have had a relatively short life so far: are there things that I have not done yet that will end up being the things that I regret most in my life? If I look back in 30 or 40 years will I wish my life would have taken a different path? No pressure or anything, but I have to make all the right choices for the rest of my life to avoid pain and regret! Although, thinking that way can actually be a good tool to help you make choices in life: will I regret this in 20 years? Will this have made me happy 30 years from now? In the future will taking fun vacations with my kids give me better memories than having that nicer car? Both would be nice, but with limited amounts of money, choices have to be made somewhere. In 40 years will I be glad I ate all that dessert or will I be more grateful for having my health? On the flip side, will I be glad I never had a dessert in 10 years or would I be OK with a few extra pounds?
There are no easy answers, but long term thinking can sure help to put things into perspective. But concerning the past, would you go back and change things if you could, or would you leave things just as they are, regrets and all?