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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Opinion: Regrets, I've had a few

October 6, 2010

Tanya Enberg
Toronto Sun
October 3, 2010

We’re told to live our lives without regrets,
which, let’s face it, is a pretty tall feat.

I want to meet the person claiming to actually have a regret-free life.

Actually, scratch that.

I suspect I already have, but I am also pretty
certain that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, unlike
the rest of us average folk chugging along through life, is the exception.

Bless that kind, gentle man, for in 2007 while visiting Toronto, he blessed me.

Looking into his warm eyes with the kind of
unguarded openness that’s quite unfamiliar to
those of us living in the big city, I thought he
must be a man of very few, if any, regrets.

Meanwhile, Frank Sinatra only owned up to having
a few in the song, My Way, which doesn’t seem entirely possible, does it?

Then again, Sid Vicious, in his rowdier,
punked-up version of the tune, howled the line
“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” with conviction but
certainly, even in his short lifetime, his days
must’ve been riddled with hazy, drug-fueled regrets.

I, for one, have collected more than a few regrets along the way.

Roads I should’ve taken; things I should’ve said;
great loves I should’ve treasured; jobs I
shouldn’t have taken; ones I shouldn’t have left;
questions I should’ve asked and things I should’ve kept, but, well, didn’t.

Although not very Buddhist-minded at all, I hold
deep regret over belongings I’ve hastily discarded throughout the years.

Every so often (usually when I am about to move)
I sift through my things and, often without
sentiment, toss a whole bunch of stuff.

In truth, I live rather simply, counting a couple
of guitars, a piano, photo albums, letters and
journals among my most treasured belongings yet,
every few years, the big purge comes along.

A few months ago, I was having dinner at my
brother’s house when I spotted a small ceramic pig.

I remembered the pig quite well -- a hand-painted piggy bank from Arizona.

My brother and I each had one, with our names
painted on them, that our parents had brought
back for us from vacation when we were kids.

My brother’s is still in mint condition, sitting
atop his fridge. Mine, on the other hand, is
likely in pieces buried deep in landfill by now.

Some years back, I ditched the pig.

Now, every time I see its beautifully crafted
counterpart, I am filled with such regret, I
fruitlessly search online for a replica.

Other belongings I wish I’d held on to include a
bright red and yellow ornament dangling with
small elephants brought back from India by a
friend; almost my entire vinyl collection (with a
few exceptions, among them the Ramones; Sex
Pistols and a few Elvis Costello LPs, which I
kept) and an oversized clown doll stitched by hand by my mom.

But, it’s the next one that’s truly difficult for me to confess to.

I believe, somewhere in this purging ritual, I
actually got rid of my grandmother’s Swedish Bible.

There. I’ve said it.
Bad, right?
No, horrible. I know.

But I’ve looked high and low and side to side for
this brown leather-bound book with thin, slippery
pages and it’s nowhere to be found.

While I don’t recall the precise moment of making
this misguided decision, I have little doubt that I did.

When getting ready to move, I enter some sort of
trance-like state (prompted by the simple fact
that packing sucks) and the mantra goes something
along the lines of, the less clutter, the better.

Needless to say, I scrap lots of things and,
later, once the dust settles, come to regret it.

Some things, like the clown doll, have been gone
for years. Other items, like the vinyl, are more recent.

But, out of all of these things, it’s the Bible that haunts me the most.

Every now and then, I still find myself scouring
the bookshelf hoping to find it, but knowing it’s
no longer there. I can only now hope that my
belated grandmother, who read the text religiously, forgives me.

Perhaps, though, this is the point of regret --
not that we’re expected to live mistake-free
lives, but that we’re to try and find find peace with the decisions we’ve made.

Who knows, maybe even the Dalai Lama himself has
made a regretful stumble on occasion, but if he
has, his eyes show no trace of their heavy burden.

Me, I am still working on it.

Every so often, I wish life came with a rewind
button or, in the very least, a handy ‘undo’ key.

Then again, maybe that’s just the regret talking ...
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