There was a lady once, a social activist, who helped people get off alcohol. It was a small town and every time she heard anyone drinking, she would immediately reach there with a small group of people to talk to the one drinking and advising them on the ill-effects of alcohol. The number of drinkers in that community actually went down for no one wanted to face her.
One day a visitor from a distant town was sitting in the only remaining bar in the town and enjoying his drink. As soon as the activist found out, she rushed to the spot with other people.
“Sir,” she said enthusiastically, “you do know that alcohol is not the solution to your problems.”
“Tell me about it, but hey,” he replied with equal zeal, “it does help me forget my problems for a little while.”
The lady saw the futility of her argument and adopting a different line, she said, “It has terrible effects on your health and can even hasten your demise.”
“I’m not afraid of death. For all I know, I could have an accident and be dead the moment I step out of this place. I may as well live now.”
“Fine,” she sighed. “How long have you been drinking?”
“Every day for the last 20 years. And I’ve no health issues.”
“How much do you spend every time?”
“So that’s $10 x 365 = $3650 every year?”
“And over 20 years, it would be a whopping sum of $3650 x 20 = $73,000.”
“Wow, I never thought like that!” the man said putting his drink down.
“Exactly! And if we factor in the interest earned, you’re looking at $100,000,” she said animatedly. “And, in $100,000, mister, you could have bought a BMW 7-series!”
“Your logic is impeccable, lady! Now, may I ask you a question?”
The woman nodded triumphantly and looked at others in the group who were so impressed with her intelligent reasoning.
“Do you drink?” he asked politely.
“Of course not! I have not touched alcohol in the last 30 years!”
“Far out, eh,” the man exclaimed. “So, what color is your BMW?”
“Excuse me?” she said a little puzzled.
“I mean if you didn’t drink, you must have saved $10 every day and bought a BMW, I suppose.”
The lady stomped her foot and stormed out of the bar.
By no means, I used this joke to endorse the consumption of alcohol in any way. I do have an important point to make though.
We all have regrets in life. I’m not even talking about grave regrets of wrongdoing or transgressions. I’m talking about simple noise in the head. That chattering of the mind that tells us how our life could have been, would have been or should have been had we done this, that or the other. Like the activist, the blabbering mind shows up just when you sit down to relax or do something that you enjoy. It nudges you, nags you and reminds you about your choices in the past. Choices you were once proud of but not anymore. You start to feel low, a feeling of regret rains down on you washing aside your peace. The present looks dull and future bleak. You wish you’d lived differently.
In this moment of weakness when you are laden with regret, the mind begins to focus on what you could have done in the past to have a glorious present. And as they say, in hindsight vision is 20/20. The truth is, endless analysis of your past is mostly blabbering of the restless mind. For, chances are, you did what you thought was best at the time. And, that, in my view, is good enough. What matters infinitely more is to focus on your present and make it worthwhile for the present of today will be the past of tomorrow.
Before leaps and running comes walking and crawling. It’s never too late to make a commitment to your future. Don’t count the weeks, months or years. Simply, keep walking one step at a time. And remember, if you don’t embark on your journey now, you will only lose more time. For, time is passing anyway.
If you want to get a sense of time then simply look at a stopwatch (your phone will have one) where you see milliseconds zipping away. That’s how fast life is going by. Millions of creatures are born and millions die in a fraction of these blinding fast moments. The wheel of time continues to churn relentlessly. Moments gone will never come back. Act wisely and mindfully in the living present. Past is dead, it has nothing new for you. And future is just the present of tomorrow. Now is the only living moment, the only true moment in which life actually exists in its entirety.
A rich man walks to his Bentley in the parking lot and finds the headlights broken with a fair bit of damage to the bumper. Exasperated, he vainly looks around to see if the offender is in sight. He is, however, relieved to see that there’s a slip tucked under the windshield wiper. It reads:
“Sorry. I just backed into your Bentley. Some people around are nodding and smiling at me because they think I’m leaving my name and other details. But I’m not.”
And so it is with life. For no direct fault of our own it seems, sometimes our present turns out different to what we envisaged all along, and we think life will give us some indication on how to go about it fixing it. But there’s none.
One way to get past your past and your regrets is to give your life meaning. Once you discover the meaning, the purpose of your life, you no longer remain the old you. The new you is born in the same body. It becomes a whole lot easier to shed your old tendencies as your newfound meaning becomes your guiding and driving force.
How to find meaning, you ask? I’ll be happy to scribble my thoughts on it sometime soon. Hopefully, next week.
P.S. I’m very pleased to share the new avatar of my blog. I’ve no words to express my deepest gratitude to the lovely couple, Vishal Saha and Shelly Singh, for the amazing work they’ve done. All in the spirit of service. For countless weeks, they closely worked with their team to deliver me the new look I absolutely love. It’s the same, only different. Take a tour of the new blog and you’ll know what I mean. Hope you like it too.