Funny statement to make but it is all too valid, the reality is that without the past we cannot develop or grow. Today has been a funny kind of day really. With the onset of the nice weather the shed beckoned to be sorted out and as much as I didn’t really want to do it I needed to so that is what I did. We moved in our house about 7 years ago and when we moved in there was some stuff that still needed sorting, as it always does, that was never sorted and it ended up in the shed. This was the day when it was going to be sorted out once and for all as I needed the space back that was being occupied by this stuff that had not been looked at in over 7 years. The first job was to empty all of the day to day stuff, such as the kids bikes, scooters, mowers, tools etc until I got to the old boxes that were hiding at the back. I knew, for the most part, that almost all of it would end up in the bin as I was working on the basis that I had not looked at it in about 7 years but I needed to go through anyway just to be sure. What I didn’t expect to find in the shed was “regret”.
As I was sorting through all of the old stuff I found some letters, and at first I thought they were from an “ex” so thought I had better make a hasty disposal. However, I checked them first and that was not the case. When I was about 13 years old I joined a cycling club as I loved cycling, something which I was good at and won a number of trophies for. When I joined most of the people there were “old”, at 13 everyone over 22 was considered old. But there were some younger people there, older than me but only by a couple of years which meant that I was at least able to relate to them as I had always tended to hang out with people a little older than me. There was a couple of lads and a girl, Ali, but they all welcomed me in which for a young and timid lad was great. Over the next couple of years we all became good friends with regular “club runs” at a weekend taking us cycling into the Derbyshire Dales as well as cycling weekends which took us as far as Ladybower Reservoir. Now at that age it was like travelling to the other end of the planet. As you can imagine we all became kindred spirits as we became a group within a group because of the age gap. We all drifted away from cycling in the end as we got older, this would be around 1991 as I started working on the nights that the club met. However, I never lost touch with Ali, as she was that little older than me she went on to college in Lincoln at Riseholm Hall studying ‘arboriculture’ which is Tree Surgery. I went up to see her there a couple of times which was great as a young kid like me, only 16 at the time, never really got out that much. She then moved on from there and got a job in a youth hostel up in Yorkshire and again I went to visit this time on the motorbike I had at the time, again a long trip for me at the time though now I wouldn’t think twice. Not too long after this she went off to University in Aberdeen as this was one of a few uni’s that ran the course she wanted to study. This is where the past catches the present as what I found in the shed was the letters that she used to send to me when she was there. Now just to clarify; we were just friends and I mean really good friends which makes it all the more disappointing that I had not really thought about this properly until today. It was the kind of friendship that normally does not exist between a boy and girl without some kind of sexual tension but it just wasn’t the case as we were great friends. I did once ask her out but she said no as we were such great friends that it would be wrong, at the time I struggled to understand but now I see it with such clarity.
So what’s the point of this I hear you thinking? Well the point is that after she went up to Aberdeen Uni we just drifted apart and despite letters passing I could have tried harder to keep contact with her, my friend, but as a 19 year old I was busy working and not seeing what was really important in life.
Now we have regret, something which I do not really partake in as it is a flawed emotion, as far as I’m concerned, due to the fact that things cannot change just because you realise that you f***ed up. But on this occasion I do regret not doing more and I wonder what happened to her. Whether she completed the arboriculture course which would have qualified her to cut back trees that were overhanging busy roads. Whether she got married, had kids or all the other things that we do when we “grow” up. So how do you deal with regret? What is the value of such a flawed emotion in the modern world if nothing can be achieved as the past is the past? Well the first thing that you can get from it is to learn. When I say learn I mean you learn from the mistakes you made, and lets face it they are mistakes that’s why you feel regret. You make damn sure that it doesn’t happen again. The second thing that you can do is to try and put things right, if possible. What I mean by this is that in my case I can try to track down Ali, I don’t know how yet but I will try, as I said before this is not some “old flame” but a true friend and for that reason I owe it to myself, and to her, to try and see if there is some way to reach out and just say “hi, how’s it going? has life been kind…”. There are no perfect people in this world only perfect intensions, I am certainly not perfect but I am always looking for ways to get a little closer even if I know I’ll never get there I can still try.
So the thought of the day is to embrace all emotions as they all hold some benefit to your life even if it is not always clear some part of you can develop because of it. For now though I will try to find my old friend just so I can say “Hi”.