Garage sales are a big deal. When I was a kid, my mom had me up and at ‘um at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings. I grabbed my pillow and blanket for backseat napping while she shopped. As I got older, my love of garage sales grew.
In my early 30’s and single, I used garage sales to find home decor. It was at one garage sale I found a fantastic deal. A green, mid-century swag lamp sitting in a box. How much? 5 bucks.
I loved that lamp. It cast a beautiful green design light onto the walls. It made me feel good.
In my late thirties, I had a store with homemade items and garage sale finds. I hung the lamp over the checkout counter. When I decided to sale off the inventory and shut down, I invited a local vintage shop owner in for a first look.
I made a decision I have regretted since: I sold them the lamp.
This morning, I woke up with the lamp on my mind. It was my first thought. The regret tumbled around in my gut.
What is regret? It is the “I wish I had” and the “I wish I hadn’t” thoughts we can’t seem to shake. I have a whole lot of these. We all have a whole lot of these.
Recently, I have been in a season of ridding myself of the regrets. Why did I….? Why didn’t I…” What on earth was I thinking? How was I so stupid?
Dealing with regret is a painful process. Why? Because in order to deal with it, you have to fully remember it and the feelings associated. Regrets must be tended to like an injury: put on the medication, limp for a while, and take care of yourself until it heals.
I have known people who live so completely in regret, they talk about it constantly. It is a stench of death swirling around their lives. These people made me ask myself a question. This question led me to the point I am at today.
Do I want to live then or now?
Answering this question is more difficult than I thought.
Human beings love to want to be happy, but they love wallowing around in the mud, too. Something triggers all of the adrenaline and endorphins in our mind when we regret. In some ways, it is more comfortable to hang on to our junk than to just let it go. Regret or peace? Peace isn’t nearly as much fun, but it is a whole lot happier.
After searching for my lamp online, I quickly realized I will not be able to afford one for quite some time. I have to let it go. I don’t want to let it go. I want that moment back so I can make a better decision! This, of course, is a pipe dream. There is no time machine. The past cannot be changed. There is no way back. There is only a way forward.
As I tackle this regret today, I find myself in a unique position of living now and then. Now, I just need to get rid of the “then” so I can live for now. One day, I’ll find my green swag lamp again. Until then, I’ll just let my soul light the way.