Notes on a Buddhist path

No regrets

August 6, 2012 By | Leave a Comment

This afternoon I shared a delicious Skype call with a friend. We talked about relationships and those beings who come in and out of our lives for a time, whether it be a note of an afternoon, a short story of months or an epic novel of decades. Those people we call our boyfriends, our partners, our husbands, sometimes adding tags to the epilogues of our time together: former and ex being the most common. The most common because we don’t stay in partnerships for long these days; about 51% of Canadians and 43% of Americans are single. There are the exceptions of course, like a woman I know who has been married for over 40 years to a man who still takes her in his arms and kisses her with sacred passion when she walks through the door each day. That is a partnership filled with life.

Because life is about change. It’s about mistakes and forgiveness and keeping each other in sight as our paths traverse unmarked terrain. Seeing my past marriage through the wide angle lens of time’s landscape beyond the narrow road of an entangled, sensual and troubled partnership it could be easy sport to dissect it and look for all there was to regret. The truth is I don’t regret anything. Anything from my marriage or anything from my life. Regret or remorse, kukkucca, is one of the five hindrances of Buddhist teachings; those pesky negative thought patterns that block the mind’s movement towards insight and enlightenment.

Regret to me is a vast waste of energy and time wishing and hoping some unquestionable fact will magically upend itself and turn out differently. Try as we might, we cannot rewrite the past. There’s no guarantee I would have been accepted to Berkeley even if I had aced that essay on my high school SAT. If I had optioned my script to a different Hollywood producer it could still be sitting on some studio shelf gathering dust. Rick and Ilsa don’t get on that plane together no matter how many times I see Casablanca. My marriage ended when it did, no sooner or later.

When I think about all that I am, all that life has brought me, how could I even consider changing a thing? Every person I’ve encountered, every place I have lived, every job that I’ve endeavored has honed the me that sits at this computer and types these words, making sense of the world and all that is in it at this particular and eloquent moment. There have been traumas and glorious joys, missed steps and grand leaps of faith. I have acted in ways I would not repeat and actions of others have harmed me in ways I cannot abridge. Yet for each scar there is healing; for each relationship there is a deepening connection to the suffering all of us want to release. Choosing to see our errors in judgment as learning opportunities and not convictions of humanity I find myself at a point in life where acceptance of what is happening right now at this very instant is the greatest gift I can acknowledge and the greatest gift I can share.

No regrets. Oui.

Image credit: Watching sunset by Luca Galuzzi – via Wikimedia Commons

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