Most of us have no trouble rattling off a decent sized list of dumb stuff we regret having done.
There. You’ve already thought of a couple things, haven’t you?
But what about invitations to adventure you regret declining? The heartbreak of “woulda-coulda-shoulda”?
Granted, there’s no un-doing an opportunity missed in the past…but that kind of regret can, I believe, give your reluctant spirit a wallop in the pants, and motivate you to say “yes” in the future.
A while back, my mom and I were at the Virginia State Fair, when we came upon an adorable chimpanzee–and for five dollars you could have a high quality Instamatic photo taken with her. When I caught sight of that irresistible offer, I begged, “Mom, Mom, please can we have our picture taken with the chimp? Pleeeeease?” but my mother, who had always been a bit more reserved than I, resisted.
“But why not?” I wanted to know.
“Well,”she said slowly, obviously trying to think of a good reason, “twenty years from now someone might get a look at it and think it’s a three generation picture.”
Quick thinking on her part, and not a bad excuse. Still I was disappointed. And I stewed in that disappointment for a long time, kicking myself for not insisting on making an iconic moment for the ages.
And I actually kicked myself for almost twenty years…until one night, lying in bed, I had an idea.
My extended family was about to travel from Indiana to Virginia. Wouldn’t it be a perfect opportunity, I thought, to find a photographable chimpanzee, and surprise my mom with a photo session–not as revenge, mind you, but as a way to “have a little fun.” Yes, that’s what I’d be doing, having a little fun.
The next day I put out the word that I was looking for a chimp, and within a week I found one who was living with a local zookeeper in his home. When I explained what I wanted to do, he was all over it, and even offered to escort the chimp to my house.
A couple weeks later, when the family gathered and I saw the handler with the chimp moseying up our sidewalk, I turned to mom and said, “Hey mom, remember a long time ago when you traumatized my tender, playful spirit? Tag, you’re it. Put some lipstick on. I have a surprise for you.”
This time she loved it!
Believe me when I say that you have not truly lived until you’ve invited a chimpanzee into your home for an hour or so of primal frolicking. The sweet little ape turned somersaults, leaped off chairs, “kissed” us when we had grapes in our mouths, let us scratch her belly, and jumped all over us. It was so much fun, in fact, it was a little scary since, by the end of the hour, we were all acting pretty much alike.
Anyway, a dream of mine was to have a family portrait made with the chimp amongst us, like one of the kids, so we all gathered around for a photo shoot.
You know how it is, when you’re looking at old family pictures, and you recognize everybody except one random person?
Yeah, future generations will think we have some serious mutation going on in the gene pool. Let’s see what Ancestry.com does with that one.
It was an epic family celebration, made perfect when my mom and I sat down to have our high quality photo taken with the chimp–a little late, but so much better than never.
How glad am I that I didn’t miss this second precious never-to-come-again experience?
You have no idea.
Because, you see, my mom passed away last week.
As my family and I celebrated her 99 years, we came to realize how important that crazy camera time had become.
We put the “chimp picture” on the front of her funeral program.
We told that story in her eulogy.
We smiled in the middle of our sorrow, and said, “Yep, one of the best times ever.”
Personally, my grief is still raw and real. But so is my joy because of an opportunity taken–fueled by regret over an opportunity lost.
What about you?
Is there something you regret not doing?
Please, please let it motivate you to grab the next adventure by the opposable thumbs… and turn a few somersaults with it.
If you’re just joining us, check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…