Friday, June 19, 2009

If You Hate that it Happened...

I think it's universal that we humans tend to look back and play "what if" games. What if I had stayed in college the first time around? What if I stayed with my high school boyfriend? What if I lost weight the first (or second or tenth) time that I tried? How would my life be different? Would it be better?

Sadly, many of us answer these questions with regret. The "what if" game turns into the "if only" game. Once that happens, it's no longer a game; it's far from entertainment.

But yesterday I found the consolation/inspiration in the oddest of places: an old episode of This American Life. At one point, a descendant of a woman involved in a significant tragedy addresses the issue of regret. Does she regret what happened to her ancestor? Her answer:

If you hate that it happened, then you hate that you are... And I don't hate that I am.

Those wise words reach well beyond her family's tragedy. They resonate in my heart as a lesson of acceptance of my own past. I can't hate those choices of my past; without them I wouldn't be. Without my mistakes, I wouldn't be the strong person I am today. I've had this thought before, but I never had such eloquent words to describe the attitude.

If you find yourself playing the "if only" game, I entreat you to remember her words. Do you hate that you are? Surely not. Then you cannot hate that it happened.

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