No Regrets

My blog this fortnight is about Maturity.  So, if its title is misleading, sorry.  I regret it.
The thing is, I have a certain pride (some might call it smugness) in being a man of few regrets.  It’s not that I’ve never done anything wrong.  On the contrary, life has contained plenty of failures, disappointments and embarrassments.  But every decision I ever make, I make with consideration, forethought, and with the best intentions and wisdom and integrity I can amass.  So if a decision backfires or something goes wrong, there is no cause for regret, because I know that given the same circumstances and information, I would make the same decision again.  Any undesirable outcome was not the result of a poor decision.  Recovery or corrective action may be necessary, even healing or apology, and lessons may need to be learned; but regret is redundant.

However, I do have one regret.  Yes, I do.

In my early twenties a close friend was about to marry.  At a pre-wedding function I and a couple of other close friends, fortified no doubt by an ale or two, thought it would be clever to kidnap our mate.  To this day I cannot think why, by any assessment, this was a good idea.  We collared him in a hallway, dragged him away (good-naturedly and with his reluctant acquiescence), and sat in a car eating chips and wondering, what now?  We decided (again, unguided by any rational thought) to go back to the function and take money off the guests – for charity, of course – in order to get their loved one back.  It seemed like such a jolly jape at the time, and bound to be admired by all.

Well, the jape meandered to its deserved anti-climax, but I have regretted that unfathomable act of immaturity ever since.  What were we thinking?

I was reminded of this at a recent ‘fun-day’ in a nearby park.  There was a sausage sizzle and a queue had formed and there were three youths – pre-teens, I would say – who would get their breaded sausage, woof it down in a gulp, and rejoin the queue.  They thought they were hilarious, cleverly managing to secure far more sausages than anyone else and what a great ruse!  Everyone else, of course, only saw them as boorish and immature, and where were their parents?

What is maturity?  When does someone become mature?

No doubt it’s a process.  But I offer my own definition:  Maturity is a function of how much one considers the needs and feelings of others.  Yeah?  Nothing to do with age.  A very young person can be demonstrably mature.  And a very old one immature.   Others in between.
And, a person can be mature at certain times and places, but immature at others. 

A mature person probably wouldn’t even begin to judge pre-teens at a sausage sizzle!

I’ve seen my infant grandson throw a handful of Lego bricks at an infant playmate and laugh with unfeeling delight, looking around at adults in the room expecting them to share his mirth. I’ve watched people in a rugby crowd – ostensibly adult – pulling acts of the utmost immaturity.

I’ve seen my granddaughter make moves to find a third world refugee child to sponsor; and I’ve seen other acts of unexpected selflessness from teenagers.

It’s these latter behaviours we parents, grandparents, teachers, leaders (and formerly immature people, especially kidnappers of husbands-in-waiting) need to foster and encourage.  The former behaviours – the boorish, selfish ones – to be restrained and coached out of our charges, lest they become anti-social, sociopathic, or even criminal.

No, I have no regrets … except … well, there were quite a few instances of immaturity that I do regret.  There, it’s out there now.
But the ideal is to retain our child-like-ness whilst developing our maturity.  And the secret to that is learning to prioritise the needs and feelings of others.

Less of me; more of others –> no regerts.

Ken F

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