I was Just the other day I was bathing our little boy, Will, who is just about 6 months old. He absolutely loves the water and on this day he was having a lot of fun splashing the water with his hands. For such little hands he was producing some mighty big splashes. It got me thinking about all the other ways he’ll have fun in the water in months and years to come, diving, swimming, surfing, jumping and ‘bombing’. reminded of a time a few years back when I was visiting the site of the World War I Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. I wrote a post about it last year. You can read it here. This small stretch of rugged coastline on the Dardanelles is something of a pilgrimage site for many Australians. It also has special significance for me as it’s also very close to the ancient site of Troy, the setting of the great epic, the Iliad.
The little tourist bus I was on stopped off at several beaches where those Australians all those years ago, along with even larger numbers of French and English troops, had been penned-in for several months. One of these had a long pier where people fished. Some young guys and a few children were taking turns jumping off the pier. It looked like they were having a great time. I remember it being a very hot day so a swim was the perfect way to cool down. Even more alluring was the thought of swimming in the water where the those soldiers, the ANZACs, had been almost 100 years ago. In my mind’s eye I also had vivid images from Peter Wier’s film Gallipoli; images of the men coming to shore in their landing boats under a hail of fire and of the occasional downtime when the troops might actually swim in the water just for pleasure, though still with the danger of being shot by snipers!
I was never really one for jumping off high places and this pier was quite high by my standards, so I spent a while considering whether or not I would do it. As I considered what to do, I became very clear about one thing, if I waisted this opportunity I was going to really regret it. There was no internal argument about this. So in spite of the fact that I didn’t have any of the usual things like a towel or bathers, I just decided to go for it.
It was soo beautiful!
It was cold and deep but it felt fantastic, I also felt like I had somehow burst through my own protective shell, at least for this moment. I can’t remember exactly, but I also loved the feeling of jumping, that rush, and so I did a few more.
It was more than fun though. There was a deep satisfaction knowing that I had won a little symbolic victory over a smaller part of my self. And I had won by employing regret in a way that moved me forward. Regret is something that I usually dislike. Learn from the past, definitely, but regret in the way it is normally used is a waste of time.
The lesson is one I’ve found useful many times since when I’ve needed to overcome fear and hesitation to move into the unknown, to go to places, where I suspect I’ll experience joy, love, bliss – where I might flourish. In these times we’ve usually just got to go for it, to jump in, in spite of our fear, in spite of uncertainty that surrounds the unknown.
Have you ever used regret like this? Is there something you’re dying to do but that you’re holding yourself back from? I’d love it if you would share your story below.