There is a certain peace that settles over me when I watch the gentle fall of an autumn rain. It puts me in a reflective mood; my attention focused on the road behind me, rather than the path that lies ahead.
There are many things in life that can lead to regret. All of us are faced with challenges in life. When we meet this crossroads, some opt for the clear and easy path, while others choose the one less traveled. Honest reflection is not always an easy or pleasant experience, but it is necessary for growth.
The past month has been a challenging one for me. For a long time I believed that I was capable of facing any threat by myself, with no outside help. This fallacy led me down a dark and dangerous path. When I reached the end of that road, I found myself alone in a frightening place, seperated from those who love me by a wall of my own creation. I came to the end of that path to destruction and paused to look at the trail behind me and the horror of it shocked my senses.
I honestly don’t know how long I was ill. Depression is surely an illness, as dangerous and deadly as cancer. With early diagnosys and treatment, the prognosis for a long and healthy live is good. The longer the evil is left to fester and boil, the more unlikely your recovery. Looking back, I can only say that I suffered, mildly, through much of my teenage years. The events of my late teens and early twenties sunk me to a new low – one that I still have not fully recovered from. Only now, in the twilight of my twenties, do I see my previous path for what it was – a desperate struggle for survival.
It is difficult to look back and see how my past behavior and actions have effected those around me, like the wake of a passing ship. I have always told myself to look forward and not behind. The past is gone and cannot be changed and as such, regret has no place for me. Oh how naive I was.
What is regret if not a mechanism for us to grow? By depriving myself of thoughts of regret, even in reflection, I robbed myself of the experience of living. To live means to make mistakes, but to truely live life to its fullest is to learn from those mistakes and become a better person for them. Now I can look back with a peculiar sadness and know what regret truely is. I cannot change the past. It is past, slipped out of reach like sand in an hourglass. What I can do, however, is learn from it. For the first time in my adult memory I can smile and laugh without it merely being a mask used to hide the sadness within. I know that I cannot change what has happened, nor would I want to. They shaped the person I have become.
A little over a month ago I stood before a great fork in the road. Down one path, one that looked familiar to me, the way grew dark until I could no longer see the end in sight. Some tickle of memory told me that something was not right, but I could not place my finger on it. Looking down the alternate road, I saw a path thick and teeming with life. I could not see the end of that fork but it was warm and bright. In a single lucid moment of reflection, like a flash of insight I came to a startling revelation. All the while I had thought I was taking the road less traveled, I was actually following the same path, deeper and deeper, darker and darker, until I could no longer see any other way. I could either follow that familiar friend to my destruction or I could take the fork in the road, the real road less traveled, and begin the real journey.
The road I once traveled is now behind me. If I turn back I can still see it in the distance, but I have finally reached the road I was meant to walk. I don’t know how or why those around me managed to tolerate the dark cloud that frequently hid the sunshine from my path. I regret the difficulty and pain it must have caused them. The only thing I can do now, with each step forward, is be a better man, and listen to my fellow travelers. The road may be long, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.