Recently, I saw a heading on an Internet article that read, "If only I'd bought that stock...." Well, sure, hindsight is wonderful! We all have it. But the line made me think: How much time do we spend thinking of the many "if onlys" of our lives? How many regrets flit through our thoughts? Everyone harbors a few – if only I hadn't missed this; if only I'd found the time to do that; if only I'd been first with that idea, instead of just a little too late.
"If onlys" are exercises in futility. I think it's better to fill our reveries with all the "I'm so glad I did thats." Such as, I'm so glad I met my husband. I'm so glad I was born in this time, in this place, to these parents. I'm so glad I have the loving extended family who have been among my greatest blessings.
I'm so glad I planted that spindly little magnolia tree 20 years ago. Now it lifts up its arms to the sky and fills my view with pink-and-white beauty. I'm so glad my grandfather planted apple trees 100 years ago. They, too, are a wonder to behold in any season – alive with honeybees among the blossoms in spring, studded with burgeoning fruit in summer, and weighed low with their delicious rosy bounty in September.
I'm so glad I like to read. I'm happy for the myriad books wherein I lose myself for a little while in adventure, suspense, or romance. I'm also happy for the poets whose vision enriches my own. I'm so glad I tried writing myself. Through it, I'm connected to so many in laughter or shared thoughts.
I'm so glad for all the times that I was afraid or too shy to do something, but went ahead and did it anyway. Because thereby, I was able to cook in a bake-off, walk my cat through a Glamour Kitty contest, and speak to high schoolers on career day – all "public" things that I cringe at the thought of doing.
I'm so glad that I got to travel a bit when the time was right. And if I never do again, I have a wealth of mind pictures of mountain villages in Mexico and tiny churches in Hawaii, of surf pounding the rocks of Maine, of wild taxi rides in New York City, and miles of quiet beach on Cape Cod.
I haven't used up all my "I'm so glads" by any means. I can still fantasize about watching a night-blooming cereus unfold, something I've always wanted to do, or about meeting one of my favorite celebrities, or even of losing a few pounds.
But you see, these aren't things to mutter "if only I had" about. They're just events that haven't happened yet.