When we find ourselves alone with our thoughts, we wrestle with moral dilemmas of past actions that’ve affected the present. Everything that we suppress by day comes bursting forth at night: remorse for relationships lost, frustration at loaded circumstances, the many good things you do eclipsed by the few bad. The heart ponders whatever it chooses, and mine usually replays good intentions outweighed by bad decisions. Anyone who says they don’t regret anything is in denial. They may have reconciled and made peace, but there is definitely regret somewhere. I can give you mine alphabetically or chronologically.
When looking in the rearview, the major question is how to forgive ourselves. It’s not as simple as financial debt, which can be repaid and absolved. How do you quantify the emotional debt you owe as a result of your mistakes? Forgiveness of oneself is often more difficult than forgiving someone else. I’ve never cared much about what happens to me individually. But hurting someone else, changing their life for the worst is one of my biggest fears. When do you wash your hands-and your conscience- of a bad outcome?Do you measure the time it took for them to move on, or what?
There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a chance to undo the damage with the same person; sometimes you have to take the L and move on. In those situations, you have to live your apology through your actions in the next situation you find yourself in. Your desire to get it right must carry over into the next romantic arrangement. You must let go of the guilt attached to your mistakes, but remember the lessons learned from them, and choose your next steps with a keen memory of your past missteps.
Like a reformed gang member who dedicates his life to youth outreach. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t mourn the past mistakes he’s made, the victims whom he applied violence to. Everyday he questions why he isn’t dead like so many others. He might carry that guilt with him for his entire life. He might never be able to square his debt to the victims or their families. But sometimes doing the next best thing is the only thing you can do.
We might never make peace with those who we’ve wronged, but we can always make peace with the universe. And what’s the best way to clean the pollution we’ve made? Plant a tree. After a few more mistakes and a few more trees, we now have a forest. Ill effects will linger in the short term, but nature will balance herself.
People have false notions of how karma works. They think you’ll always get exactly what you put out, on some eye for eye shit. What they think is karma, they are mistaking for revenge. Sometimes, karma gives you an opportunity to choose a different action in a similar situation. Sometimes, like a Jupiter Return, you’ll keep repeating the same lesson until you choose differently come test time.
It is not enough to simply “learn the lesson” and be done with it. You must take it a step further, making better decisions as a result of your past fumbles. This is why people get salty when they see their ex living happily with the next. They are not unhappy for the new couple; rather, its the proper behavior that the ex mate is giving to their next mate. Sour grapes ensue when a person despises the proper behavior that they rightfully deserve.
The past fills us with regret, while the future fills us with worry. Focus on the now, and find peace with your current state. In football, they always tell you to fall forward when you get tackled. You’ll lose a yard if you fall on your back. But if you lean forward and fall on your stomach, you’ll gain an extra yard. Mistakes work much the same way. You will get knocked down in life. You can choose to fall backwards, or fall forward, fail better, and make progress even in your errors