At a young age I decided to live life with no regrets. Before the age of ten I realized that I wouldn't be happy knowing there were things I had left uncompleted, undone, unlearned. I remember as a boy looking forward to the future and projecting myself back, often wondering what I would think of myself in ten years, in twenty years. Even now, at thirty-five, I find myself doing the same thing.
In case you're wondering how I've fared in the twenty-five years since then - yes I do have regrets. Are there things that I wished I would have done but for some reason decided not to when that given moment in my life arrived? Of course. Are they big regrets? No. But I think that's what makes us human and enables us to grow, our innate ability to learn from our mistakes and to accept the one thing that we will never be able to change in our lives: our past.
Today is my birthday and for some reason the annual anniversary of the day we were born often makes us reflective of our past and remembering of things we've done, or more importantly, of things we haven't done. Sadly this can easily preoccupy much of our time, easily consuming us and creating an air of doubt in our lives, almost prohibiting us from experiencing new challenges, new directions. Some people let their regret transform into self-doubt and let it cloud their vision of the future, figuring if they've missed that particular opportunity then they have surely already missed the boat and will forever be stuck on the shore, watching their dreams sail away without them. At that moment in our lives it's important we realize that there's no such thing as “missing the boat”. Grab your binoculars, you'll see lots of them out there. Your future is sailing along and your boat has your name on it. Can't see it? Maybe it's time you looked closer, or got some better binoculars.
On our birthday our age feels tangible, tactile. It's the one day we allow ourselves to think about the bigger picture, about our future and our ever-growing past, about any regrets we may have. It's the one day we feel our age for what it really is: a culmination of all our memories, strung out behind us like kite strings, all leading back to where we've been, all leading down to the clenched fist of a ten year old boy in the park, holding on tight, hoping the wind carries his kite higher, farther, faster and desperately hoping he has enough string when the wind picks up and carries it high up into the clouds and straight into the future, knowing full well he won't regret flying his kite in a windstorm.