There are many things in my life that I can do. But there are also in life some things that I wish I'd been able to do, for which the time on earth is past, and that I cannot go back and do. Some of them are simply opportunities that did not ever present themselves or that life's vicissitudes prevented. Some of them are opportunities that I chose to ignore in order to do something else that was good. Some of them are opportunities that I had but did not recognize or was not prepared to take. And some are opportunities that I should have taken but didn't due to my own well-meaning or mistaken or immature errors of judgment.
And when I recall those they each, of course, bring with them a sense of regret or disappointment, some greater, some smaller, but all sad.
So the sentence below from an old novel jumped out at me yesterday. It describes the response of an older character, a woman of faith, who is watching someone younger, that she loves, choose an opportunity that she knows is past for her personally in this life.
"Then into the eyes of Julia...there came a vision as comes to one who watching the glorious setting of the sun sees not the regretful closing of the day that is past, but the golden promise of the day that is to come."
The novel itself was not that great, but that sentence will stay with me.
And I think it is a much wiser and healthier response to regrets than the often quoted stanza by John Greenleaf Whittier about "the sad words of tongue or pen".