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On Beyond

I'm a hack. If you want a good blog, go to my wife's blog

27 April 2005


I've long held the following proposition:

It is better to regret what you've done than what you have not done

I know it isn't quite complete. I suppose one cannot sum up the whole world in one sentence. So take it with a grain of salt. But generally speaking, I think it is better to commit a sin full on rather than commit a sin of omission. The world in which we live is constantly trying to push us into submission - to stop doing what we want to do, and do what we should do. Well, there is a place for that. When you define "what we should do" as "What God would have us do". But when "what we should do" is defined as "What something either internal or external is pushing us to do", why, that is a different story, my friend.

Given what I know of the universe, God is a pretty ambitious guy (think "created universe"). If you are that ambitious, and you create man in your image, you pretty well expect man to be ambitious as well. I find greed to be a rather contemptible trait, yet greed is simply ambition without compassion and meaning. Greed is the core of a good thing, but some of the critical components have been stripped away, so it is no longer good. Greed is like a man holding a knife - you can wield a knife to carve a statue, to prepare a meal, and so on. But if you wield that knife to cause destruction - to vandalize, injure, or kill, why, it isn't quite so good, now is it? Greed is not the knife - it is the man holding the knife. Greed is a bad application of a good tool. The tool is "ambition". The application is "serve thyself".

So, let's get back to the point - it is better to regret what you've done than what you have not done. Yes, I've done some things in my life that I aughtn't to have done. Most of those I think of but rarely. Things that I wish I had done plague me. "If only I had taken that opportunity when it was there!" Ah! For the sins I have committed, I've generally paid some penalty. For the opportunities I've missed, the penalty is a haunting regret.

I implore you - take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. You will find that you won't live forever, and some opportunities are presented only once. Carpe diem -
who cares if you make a mistake now and again. If you make a mistake, you will pay the penalty and move on. If you pass the opportunity, there is nothing but regret, and no end to that.

I did tell you about the grain of salt, did I not? There are mistakes that you don't want to make. There is a time for restraint. There are things so egregious that you don't want to do them, you don't want to regret having done them. But it is generally the weakness of man that we more frequently regret missed opportunities than regret misdeeds.

So what is my point? My point is this - when you are pressed by an opportunity, seize it. Do what you can do to live enthusiastically, joyfully, fully. Do not spend your life regretting that you didn't play that game, or try that strange food, or talk to that person or whatever other thing you may not have done as a result of fear. Pick up your sword and shield, and get in the battle. Fight it like you mean it.

And if you can't do that, put on a set of headphones and listen to "Wooly Mammoth" from the album "Music for Two" by Bela Fleck and Edgar Myer. It just might give you the courage to carry on.


Blogger Nancy said...

Stephen, This is excellent. Thanks for that sharing. I will take it all to heart and do the things I need to do and not regret not doing them.
I love you. Mom

12 July, 2005 14:38  

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