Dump as many regrets as you can…

Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Sinatra songs. Truly one of the greats. His songs would be great for someone trying to learn English. His voice and enunciation is so clear. It is easy to understand all the lyrics. He dressed with great style also.

One of the things I noticed was that nearly all his songs are about love. Nothing wrong with that. Its pretty common in modern music too. However, it’s his one song where he doesn’t sing of love that is probably the most outstanding and in this regard I wished he had sung more non-love-songs about life.

‘My Way’ is one of his greats, and could be considered a song for men. It is a song of a man reaching the end of his life. He looks back at his experiences and concludes that he lived his life ‘his way’ according to his principles. It goes well with his powerful vocals, which conveys the sentiment of the lyrics perfectly. Here is one of the lines:

Regrets, I’ve had a few.
But then again, too few to mention

This line always sets off a thought process in me. I wonder about my regrets in my life. And well, there have been quite a lot.

There were times, when I was too shy to ask a girl out. There were times when someone had been impatiently waiting for me to just approach them. Just go up and ask. And a positive answer was a sure deal. But I didn’t I was to scared… Regret.

Early in life, I had plans to visit Egypt. To see the pyramids. To go to Rome. To see the Colosseum. To satiate my love of Ancient history. Yet, I still haven’t been there yet. Was I too afraid?… Regret

There was a chance in Japan to see Simon and Garfunkel in concert. Yes, that’s Simon and Garfunkel. They had reunited and were doing a one-off tour in Japan. I checked the website. But the tickets were a bit expensive and I had a fear, that me and my girlfriend would be the youngest people there. Perhaps we’d stand out. So I didn’t buy those tickets. What a fool I was. I had been a great fan and this was my only chance in life ever to see them. But I didn’t!… Even typing this now, I feel… Regret.

The same thing happened with Micheal Jackson. I had been a fan since a child. When I was younger, he came to London, to do a tour. But he was going through his Messiah stage at the time, and I was kind of put off him. Who’d have thought that would have been my only chance to see him. Again … Regret.

I regret I hadn’t furthered my interest in running when I was a young boy. I had been quite fast. It would have made my body stronger and probably helped me cope with life during my difficult teenage years. I briefly attended an athlete club with a friend later in life, but it was too late then.

One of my realisations last year, was that I don’t want to have too many regrets in life when I approach my death. I don’t want to look back and wish I had done this or done that and feel a kind of inner pain that I didn’t.

What is the definition of regret? I think a regret is an action that was within your control and choice, but that you did not follow through on. It was an action that had a desired outcome, but that which also had a certain challenge to doing it, enough to put you off.

I think regrets change at different times of life. Right now, there were things I regretted not doing as a teenager. Well, I can’t go back. That ship has sailed. I’m an adult. But even as an adult, new desires and new regrets can appear. Building a family, focusing on  work that was right for me, setting up a business. Those could have been regrets if I hadn’t had gone for them.

Even writing. I had wanted to write a book as a young man. But year after year passed, and I didn’t. I couldn’t. But in the last two years, I broken through my blocks and have written two. One is promoted on my website: The Tradition of Blind Acupuncturists. Another has been submitted to a traditional publisher to see if they will take it. By sending it off, this is removing another potential regret I could have had. Not being accepted is not a regret. That is something out of my control. But not sending it off could be a regret. That is something within my control.

I have spoken to people who told me they have written books or poems and never show them to anyone or tried to get them published. I guess they are afraid of rejection. I can understand that. When I wrote my first short story I was lucky that my Tai Chi teacher/spiritual mentor at the time read it and was very supportive and encouraged me to keep writing. Her feedback was very important to me. If I had shown it to someone who couldn’t appreciate it and they had criticised my writing, it would have been very discouraging and perhaps put me off  writing. It is very important you choose the right person to show your work to. I sometimes offer to read people’s work when they tell me they have written something but haven’t shown it to anyone. I know how sensitive a thing it is and also what a privilege it is to read someone’s work.

These days, you can self-publish. My book the ‘Tradition of Blind Acupuncturists’ was self-published. I’m not bothered if my other book gets rejected. I know it’s no masterpiece. But I just don’t want to have any regrets.

There have been other ways I have dissipated some regrets. For example. I enjoyed drama at school. I had some ability. Not great, but some potential. But I gave it up when I left. I felt that there was something left undone and so years later – when I was living in Japan, I decided to audition for a local theatre group. They were running a new play and had advertised for some actors. I just thought what the hell and went along even though I hadn’t acted for years. And unsurprisingly, I was rejected. I sucked. But I didn’t mind. I was just so happy that I had pushed against my fears and gone for it. Curiously enough a few weeks later, they contacted me again. The actor they had chosen had dropped out and they asked if I was still interested. But this time, I knew the answer already. I realised that I was finished with acting in life. I had given it a shot and got it out of my system… No regrets.

Another example is I had the chance to see Shudo Denmei in Japan. He is a famous acupuncturist, who is now in his 80s and has become semi-retired. I had found his books inspiring and really wanted the chance to see him once. Then suddenly I heard that he was returning for one more seminar. Possibly his last. I had to go, but there were challenges. A job I was doing at the time didn’t take too kindly to me taking what would be two-and-a-half-weeks off. Also the cost was going to be really high. Yet, if I didn’t go, I knew it would be another regret. So I went. And it opened me up to many new experiences and a whole new mindset, which I think has changed my life. So in this instance, although some difficulties did come from this. I can say… No Regret.

There have been other situations in life, which had become regrets. Some very personal, that I can’t share. In some situations, I was fortunate to turn those regrets into non-regrets by recognising what I really wanted in life and going for it. I would advise readers to do the same if possible. Of course not all things are possible to change. But at least, as long as we try, then there can be no regret.

Going back to the Frank Sinatra song ‘My Way’. Truthfully, I don’t feel I have lived my life ‘my way’ so far. Not according to my terms. I’ve let lots of other things control me. I truly wish I could listen to this song and really say: “Yes! This song relates to my life”. But alas, it doesn’t. At least not yet. Perhaps, there is still time. And so, one of the things I will work on is reducing my regrets in life.

To finish… an Al Bundy Quote:

“That’s what being a man is like: making mistakes and not caring”