Uncle Iroh, a fictional character whom I hold in high regard, once remarked tearfully, “I know you’re not supposed to cry over spilt tea, but it’s just so sad.”
There’s an idiom about crying over spilt milk, but I agree with Iroh—spilt tea is much, much sadder. If I spill a cup of tea, tears flow like a river and anguished sobs sound forth like peals of thunder.
All right, I exaggerate. But the waste of a cup of tea certainly causes me some regret. It’s awful to lose something good irrevocably because of a mistake.
I lost a lot of good things this year—things much better than tea, and that’s saying something. Hours that could have been spent reading or writing or praying were wasted pointlessly lounging around the house or aimlessly surfing the Internet. Words that should not have been spoken were, and words that should have been spoken were not. Dreams were choked by anxiety or laziness before they could grow.
Looking back, I realize I’ve spilt a good deal of tea.
I don’t know whether anyone else is ever burdened with regrets, but I am sometimes. It’s so dashed easy to look back and say to myself, “You certainly made a mess of that, you blasted fool,” or “You had an opportunity to do something amazing, and you missed it.” Trying to let go of regrets seems irresponsible. “You made those mistakes,” I tell myself. “You’re just going to have to live with them.”
Fortunately, the Apostle Paul took quite a different view. Paul, whom I hold in even higher regard than Uncle Iroh, was quite a wise fellow. He once wrote, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Forgetting what is behind? Straining toward what is ahead?
So we can live without clinging to regrets. Now what?
According to some people, the ancient Mayans predicted the world will end in 2012. Even if the Mayans did predict such a thing (which is pretty doubtful) I don’t put any confidence in their ability to foretell the future. The Mayans held human sacrifices, after all, so their views about the world were probably a little skewed.
Assuming the Mayans were wrong about the world ending in 2012, I’m going to head into the new year without any regrets about the past. There’s a saying about starting off each day with a clean slate. While it’s a little trite, I’m beginning to think that saying is also quite sensible.
It’s no good crying over spilt tea. It’s far better just to clean up the mess and brew another cup.
Speaking of which, all these metaphors are making me thirsty.