Monday, April 16, 2012

Of Choices & Regrets

There are moments in your life, you always want to re-live. There are moments in your life, you always want to take back. That night, my heart was oscillating in the memories of many such varying moments.

27 years of life, and the one eternal truth I learnt is that everyone encounters difficulties. Everyone makes choices. And everyone regrets. That is the truth of life. While idealism promotes that life is a choice between good and bad, while it says that a person encountered with such choice, must always choose good – reality infact is something totally different.

In reality, life is never a choice between the good and the bad ! That is too easy to make. In reality, life is a choice between greater of the two goods or lesser of the two bads. It presents us a choice in ways that any decision, will only eventually lead to regret. For instance, when a young son of poor parents, has to choose between ambitiously pursuing his passion or financially supporting his parents – either decision leaves him with regret. When a wonderful daughter of a sweet family has to choose between spending her time earning abroad, or settling with her family here in India –either decision leaves her with regret. When a middle-aged father, has to choose between loving his own family or bring in his biased relatives – either decision leaves him with regret. When an old mother, has to choose between letting her sons go and live independently or protect them till the end with her own possessive love, either decision fills her with regret.

Choices in real life, are never easy. It is as if they always come free with a regret. And add to it our own sense of morals, society’s rules, perception of others, the weariness of the years that will follow, our past experiences, loved ones’ opinions, the occasional loneliness and the endless emptiness arising out of missing what we didn’t choose – life travels into misery over time. It leaves us a tendency, where a burning desire to experience life burns out. It happens to everyone. There is no escape. Or so I thought, until that night.

That night, I thought of God. I wondered if he really existed. If he was a real physical presence, who watched over planet earth and its countless beings forever. I wondered what would he have to say on the decisions I have made. What would he say on regrets ? How different would his choices be ? Does he have any regrets ? I smiled at myself. That night, my heart answered.

It said, ‘Sai, why are you so worried about regrets ? Why are you constantly feeding them ? I understand they hurt you. I understand you are unable to get over it. I understand you are missing the life of the other decision. I understand you will be haunted all life by it. But then, they are nothing more than your shadows. The real you is the choices you have made. Why are you not happy for the real you ?’

‘hmm, may be. But I see that I could have been way better if only I made the other choice !’, asked my mind.

‘Well then, you have time don’t you ? To the one who relentlessly hopes, there will always be an opportunity to redeem himself’, said my heart.

‘That’s a philosophical non-sense which never works in reality. Sometimes, things just go too far and there is no turning back’, said my mind.

‘Hmm. That’s true dear. That’s a philosophical non-sense. And sometimes there is no turning back. But nothing stops you from hoping and working does it ? Would you hope only if there is a chance of things coming true ? How selfish !’, said my heart.

‘But why would i hope if there is no chance ? Infact, in life, how do I ever know what should I hope for ? Whenever think of my past or my future choices, at any point, both my choices seem right and both my choices seem wrong !’, said my mind.

‘hmm. Well, then. We have to see the larger picture – don’t we ? Sai, all of your life, you have made decisions you have made decisions under the impression that it is easy to gain forgiveness than to gain permission. That it is better to risk and be ruined, than regret and live yearning. But now, if you aren’t happy with choices out of them, there is only one way out’, said my heart.

‘What is it ?’, asked my mind.
‘You have to answer the three questions’, said my heart.
‘What are they ?’, asked my mind.

‘The first, what choice would you have made, if it is given that no one in the world will praise or criticize it ? No one will have any opinion on it. No one will even bother about it. What choice will you make, if no one in the world existed at all to know it ?’, said my heart.

‘Why should I think of it ?’, asked my mind.

‘Because that removes the effect of unnecessary attachments, wrong beliefs, peer pressure and societal attitudes ! That just leaves you and me. And since i am one feeling regrets, i believe you should ask only me.’, said my heart.

‘hmm, what is the second question ?’, asked my mind.

‘What choice would you make if you know you were going to die today ?’, said my heart.

‘And why that ?’, asked my mind.

‘Because, one day you certainly will. And you don’t want to die with me regretting then’, said my heart.

‘hmm, and what is the last question ?’, asked my mind.

‘Can you live with a hopeless hope of your choice coming true ?’ said my heart.

‘huh ? A hopeless hope ? What does that mean ?’, asked my mind.

‘Dear, it means a mad desire for life. It means a blind belief that things will go your way one day. It means an arrogant attitude that you will not let your past wear you down. It means that you will stand up for your decisions, take responsibility for them and work hard to become better. It means creating yourself in a way, that you care not for what else you could be', said my heart.

‘And how would I do that ?’, asked my mind.

‘By believing Sai. By believing that, what you are now is of little importance, when compared to what you must be in future. By understanding that you are not just choices and regret, but are work and results. By knowing that you breathe every moment, not for the past, but for the future. By trusting that the universe always gives the worthy, a life to be proud about’, said my heart.

‘So, that approach will give me a life that I could have lived ?’, asked my mind.

‘It may or may not. But that’s your only chance. Don’t you want to take it ?’, said my heart.

‘hmm, I am not sure’, said my mind.

‘There is no need to be sure dear. Life is not about being sure with events, but about being comfortable with yourself. And you must be comfortable to think of your past. To love your present. And to live for the future. The regrets then will automatically give way to a beautiful story of life, that even god above will be proud of’, said my heart.

‘hmm’, said my mind.

That remainder of the night, my regrets and memories were silent.