A year ago today a very close friend of mine died. He died in a way both horrific and needless. We were working together on a project one day, just chatting about stuff, and we clicked, and somehow, two people from different backgrounds, with different values and strengths became fast friends. He built two of my bikes for me, taught me more about walking in the hills than everyone else combined and was there when I needed him. And vice versa. I was there for him during the breakup of one relationship and the beginning of the relationship with she who would become his wife.
I hadn't seen him or his wife for a year and a half prior to his death, and in truth, I had been avoiding them, something they never understood and I cannot begin to explain. Sometimes things just are, and nothing can excuse them.
But I regret it. I regret it with all my heart and all my soul. I thought I was doing the right thing and it turned out I wasn't. I made a mistake and I utterly, completely regret it.
I regret many things. I regret a number of the actions I have undertaken. I regret the opportunities spurned in favour of that which was easier or less effortful. I regret some of the things I have thought and many of the things I have said. I regret those decisions of the past that constrain my life of the now.
Regret is part of life.
Yesterday I told a friend that she should take the opportunity given to her to travel, else she look back on her deathbed and regret not doing so. Today, whilst reading an excellent post about writing, writers and becoming one, the phrase resurfaced.
Sitting here, looking at this candle that reflects and commemorates the life of my friend, I realised something. My deathbed is too far away to have regrets. My deathbed is too final for me to recognise all that I have missed or done wrong by or failed in.
I need my regrets now, tumbling over each other in their eagerness to remind me not to end up looking at the candle, but to see its shape in my future. They are there to poke me and prod me into action; to apologise, to make amends, to curtail and to think again. They are the bedfellows of my conscience and my desires, of my hopes and of my dreams. They have a purpose beyond the prosaic.
I do not like having regrets, yet my life is full of them. When I was younger I was foolish and stupid and blind. When I was younger was only a moment ago. But I am working at it, trying to turn the regrets into reminders and lessons; taking on their message and making sure that the present me and the future me will always have less to be regretful for.
One candle in my life is more than enough to regret.