All we have is the now, regrets don't work

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Published 23/07/2016 | 00:00

Over 59,000 people will receive their Leaving Cert grades next month and those results will play a significant role in the courses they do or the jobs they take up. The decisions they make will affect the rest of their lives. Guidance teachers play an important role in advising young people what careers are open to them. Parents too play a role in directing their children in career paths.

A gifted young woman I know has just finished a science degree at Cambridge, where she obtained a first class honours. She has decided she doesn't want to work in the area of science. She has now set her sights in working in the business field. The world is her oyster. Farms pass from one generation to the next as do businesses. Doctors often see at least one of their children doing medicine. But nothing is simple and there are no rules of engagement when it comes to the lives we live. The wisdom of Shakespeare is worth noting. In 'All's Well that Ends Well' he writes: "The web of our life is a mingled yarn, good and ill together".

The lifestyles we live and the jobs we do are a 'mingled yarn'. Has it ever dawned on you how you have ended up in your job or the person with whom you share your life? Imagine the chance element of how your parents met. I heard someone say that we all end up where we want to be. Is that the case? I'm not sure. On the other hand a friend pointed out that he would never have been in his job but for a complete accident.

Reading about the Dublin Bus drivers who won the €23 million in the Euromillions lottery there was something striking about one driver who has recovered from cancer and is now a million euro wealthier. One got the impression that the money would be used wisely and indeed, he and his family will go on living their lives more or less as they have been up to now. It seems over the years the group has won smaller prizes and have given the money to charitable causes.

Last week I visited an elderly priest in hospital. He has spent over 50 years working in Africa. I asked him if he had regrets about his life. To my surprise he immediately said he had. "When we went to Africa we brought a new list of sins to the people". He regretted that he had not listened more to the people and taken heed of their culture and their situation, rather then foisting on them all sorts of western rules and regulations. Otherwise, he had no hesitation in saying it has been a good life.

It probably makes no sense regretting who we are and where we are. Surely it is a matter of getting on with it and making the best of the lot we have. We don't hear it these days but there was that old saying: 'If all the ifs and ands made pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers' hands.'

We are where we are. A matter of living in the present and appreciating it. Thinking of what we might or could have done makes no sense and all it does is burden us with excuses to stop getting on with our lives. There's so much to be done, so many to be helped. The tiniest of gestures can change the world, with or without Leaving Cert points. All we have is the now. Regrets don't work. Carpe diem.

Wexford People

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