I sit under an old oak tree, waiting for my nephew to come for his weekly chat. We’ve always been close. I watch as he approaches the tree. This tree has been on my family’s property for generations. I climbed it as a young adolescent. I got married under it, and when I returned home from the war, this tree was a reminder to stand, when I had done all to stand. My nephew sits down next to me.
“Hiya, unc. How goes it?”
“All good, nephew. How are you?”
“Do you ever have doubts, unc? I am full of doubts.”
I stare at him. Barely in his twenties, I wonder why he is having doubts and what causes him to doubt himself.
“Doubts? About what?”
“About life. Don’t you have any regrets?”
“I have things I would change if I could, but no I don’t regret the choices I’ve made or the path I’ve taken.”
“So, you would have still gotten married? Still joined the military?”
“Yep. I made my choices and now I live with them. Life is too short to have regrets. Make peace with what is done and then move on.”
“You make it sound so easy-”
“Nope. It’s not easy, but you learn to focus on the next thing.”
“And how do you focus on the next thing, when the past keeps popping up?”
I look at my nephew, his frustration is evident upon his face. I smile at him and slap him on the shoulder.
“I train myself to live in the present. The past is behind me, the future ahead, but now is the time for me to be the best version of myself that I can be.”
“So, you’re saying…”
“Time ages us, experience teaches us, and hope lights the way. We all start out as something else, but we don’t stay as we are. We ebb and flow like the tides. Some days are high, and others low, but we are constantly evolving into the best person we can be.”
As we sat under the tree, I wondered if my father had sat under this tree and chatted with his father like this. In our hearts we hope the best is to come, but we also recognize this may be as good as it gets. Both of us stand and walk toward the cabin. It’s our lives, and we must choose who we will be. After all, who wants to live a life full of regret?