Having lived a life of wonderful opportunities, many of which I acted on and some I turned my back to, I sometimes wallow in a world of what-ifs. I used to fill my to-do jar for later, because when you’re young, later is a given but the problem was, the jar filled fast and there was little room for later.
So I wonder, how do those of us who have tried, failed and got up again dismiss regret? How do we set it aside and come to terms with failure?
My daughters and I have a habit of watching movies we’ve really like, over and over. If one is on TV, and we happen to be together, we’ll tune in and watch. But we’re really not watching the movie, we’re visiting with each other with the soundtrack and dialog like an old friend mumbling in the background. One of our repeat favorites is Twister, an action flick which came out about twenty years ago.
It’s about a group of storm chasers starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, as a soon to be divorced couple, thrown together for one last chase. Not sure why it resonated so well with us. Maybe it’s the combination of kitsch, action, humor and heart.
It becomes the job of our daring duo to place their scientific tornado research machine, (called Dorothy for OZ fans), filled with little round sensors, into the path of the storm. It’s dangerous work. It can be deadly but our couple is determined to save mankind by increasing tornado warning time.
Okay, so the premise is farfetched and the dialog cheesy at times. Hunt, trying to make sense regarding the loss of her father in an EF5 tornado when she was a little girl, and Paxton, a natural at predicting the paths of twisters, are a perfect storm of a couple when it comes to risk.
In one scene our foolhardy storm-duo places Dorothy in the path of an approaching tornado while being hammered by hail, thunder, lightning and flying debris. Of course Dorothy is knocked over and all the little sensors scatter across the blacktop. Helen Hunt scampers to pick them up. Bill Paxton shouts about the futility of continuing their task in the face of such a deadly storm.
Hunt, still determined to see her life’s work launched shouts back, “You’ve never seen what one of these storms can do, how it can miss one house, miss another and then come for you.”
“Is that what you think?” Paxton says. “You can’t bring your father back. You can’t change the past, you can’t predict the future. What you have is right in front of you, right now.”
Wise words truly spoken in the middle of a fictional storm.
So, regarding those trees lining my path to my past, I keep telling myself, shade and oxygen, shade and oxygen.
Regret is a scar which eventually fades. It may never go away because we can’t change the past. And because we can’t predict the future, we must be mindful of the lush green canopy of now, by grasping today with peace, gratefulness and gusto for prospects undiscovered.