Top five regrets in the golden years
PURPLE SHADES - Letty Jacinto-Lopez (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2017 - 4:00pm

I blinked!  The 50th golden year of our emancipation from college, professors, theses, and books had come and gone. Do you remember when you said goodbye to all of the above?  You switched your energy towards building a career that made you the envy, the pride and delight of your former classmates.  “Did you know that we sat next to each other?” I blurted out.  Others chose hearth and home, raising a family and sharpening their skills in the kitchen.  Some even surprised themselves that life was pulsating beyond History, Math, Parliamentary Procedures, and love. Even more reassuring were those classmates who responded to a spiritual call to lead people closer to God.

The reunion was hosted by Linda Floirendo-Lagdameo who didn’t spare time and cost to dine, wine, and entertain her batch mates.  Diet restrictions were discarded, even temporarily, just for this beguiling instance.

Father Phil Estrella was asked to celebrate Mass and he took the occasion to pose the question:  “What are your top five regrets?”  The question was thrown back and forth until Father Phil, not wanting to toast our brain, gave the following answers:  

1. That I should have stayed in contact with my friends.  Four years in school seemed not enough to know the sum and substance of her nature, but now, you’ve got more time.  It will surprise you to learn that you share many things in common and under less challenging circumstances, the friendship could grow on a solid footing.  Meet up and see each other more.  It’s never too late.  

2. That I should have exerted more effort to be true to myself.  Were there times when you bit your tongue to keep silent and not risk offending someone or expressing what you honestly feel?  Worse, you discarded your principles and stayed mum and turned a blind eye.  You discovered that it never went down smoothly.  You gave up so much that you couldn’t recognize anymore that person in the mirror staring back at you.   

3. That I shouldn’t have worked too hard. Read:  Too hard.  At the expense of your sanity, your health, and loved ones.   A colleague was airlifted to the hospital where he spent a year to recover from a spinal stroke.  He was never the same.  All those years of tension, lost sleep, and physical exhaustion took their toll.  When the company forced him to retire, he walked a dark and lonely road.  Only his wife and children remained.  At his funeral, the wife received a big wreath from the head office.  She shook her head and whispered, “Darling, you were only good for one pathetic wreath.”  Was it worth it?

4. That I should have let myself be happier.  Happiness is a choice.  You either choose to grow old bitterly (and miserly) or inject zest in your life and find meaning every day.  Chill.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  There will always be winners and losers with days accompanying them, but if you take the easy-does-it attitude, it won’t knock you out beyond repair.  There was this undercover agent who was trying to make an escape. One ally who was helping him gain freedom asked him, “Aren’t you petrified?”  He drew a big sigh and replied, “Will it help if I am?”      

5. That I should have traveled more when my body can or could keep pace. Play catch up.  There are still a lot of interesting places open to exploration, but now, the bones react more violently against anything that requires longer walks and steeper climbs.  Happy, however, that places have become more accessible to those who are physically challenged.  You can now even avail of personal drones to take sharp photos by remote.  Listen to your body, however.  Don’t take risks.  

Father Phil also touched on the Apocalypse, referring to the end of time.  Of course, it will come.  The darkness that accompanies it, however, is not meant to frighten but to remind us that there is an ending to everything except the relationships you’ve built.  At 70, let’s evaluate the direction of our lives. Remove bragging and cheating, in any form.  Don’t miss the heart of the matter —  the good and the sublime, in you.  Remember that when you commit a sin against someone, you break this trust.  You have failed in this relationship.  Reflect on your mistakes.  How much did you contribute to these failures?  What are you doing to save it and make amends?

Just when we were going down the road to melancholia, I caught the refrain of a new song that went, “I’m glad we were together for a day to remember.”

Ah!  The memories we made together.  Let’s make more, while we can. ?

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