I used to believe in the aphorisms that tell us to “live life to the fullest, with no regrets,” but I am realizing that these expectations do not coincide with the ways that I feel. Moreso than specific situations or actions or relationships, I find myself regretting how I have made other people feel. I regret not visiting with my grandmothers longer, I regret bringing added stress to my family and the people who care deeply about me, I regret plotting revenge before listening to the other side of the story, and perhaps mostly I regret not always being true to myself. I’ve haphazardly noticed the writing on the wall and knew that the search party was on the hunt for the Ashley that everyone “understood,” only I would not and could not appreciate the subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints until now. It’s somewhat prohibitive to assert that sometimes “now” is too late, but I do admittedly feel that way. I feel stuck, like my life is at a stagnant standstill. Today has been one of the days like I love – overcast and just barely cool outside, with light rain and the hum of the evening bugs that forgot to set their alarm clocks. I can walk through the house and feel the breeze through my open windows, listen to the cicadas and katydids, and practically smell the next afternoon shower. Everything about this day says that today is a great day, except the regrets that are gnawing holes through my conscience.
I am trying to protect the glue that holds me together, because a hysterically frantic Ashley is one that my world does not need. I find strength in knowing that some things must fall apart in order for better things to fall into place and I will always be a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Without the bumps and potholes in our lives, the boundaries of our souls are never explored. The successes that we experience create who we are and the downfalls are simply strategically interwoven learning experiences. Instead of living life with no regrets, I think I will stick to trying to make every day count. My regrets will always be a part of me, but only a tiny part, and a part that I will not allow to define who I am.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. [Ecc. 3:1-8]