Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Power of Regret

Often in Life, we forget the things we should remember and remember the things we should forget – Unknown

As an eternal optimist, someone who strives to see the bright side of everything and someone who is eternally grateful for the Journey that is my Life, I have a confession to make.

Many who think they know me and my outlook on Life may be surprised by my confession.

I must confess that for the many things I have been blessed to experience, I have regrets that I have carried for a long time.

Most of us have regrets but we hide them behind a brave facade of “I don’t regret a single thing in my Life”, “I have turned every difficulty into success”, “I don’t see problems, I see challenges”, etc.


Yeah ..… right.

Back in 2001, I had an opportunity to have potentially prevented someone from being in a position to be killed and I didn’t fight hard enough to prevent it.  As a result, this individual ended up in a place where he shouldn’t have been, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I also had the opportunity many times to get together with this same person who was always reaching out to see me but I constantly turned down the invitations because I was “too busy”.

By the time I finally accepted Narender Nath’s invitation to get together for lunch the next day, it was the afternoon of Monday, September 10th, 2001.

Less than 24 hours later, it was too late to honor his invitation.

I have danced with the knowledge of his loss for years, oscillating between feeling grateful for having known him and feeling torn that I should have done more to have prevented him from being on the impact floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the fateful morning of 9/11.

For people who try to coach myself and others out of our regrets, it is easy to offer lines such as :

We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us. - Lucy Maud Montgomery

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. - C. S. Lewis

There was nothing you could have done.

It was not your fault.

It was fate.

It was God’s way.

Insert pithy platitude here.

The truth is that we must come to our own terms with our regret as only we know what we are feeling and what in our emotional baggage has tied the regret to how we perceive ourselves and the world.

As the years went by ….

Over the years, I thought I had learned the lessons I needed to learn from this event and was doing my best to live the lessons learned.

But then a call came in from long-time (35+ year) friend, Christopher Richardson.

Christopher is a talented producer and director at Henge Productions, an organization that creates amazing documentary and television programs including the powerful documentary Where’s My Goat?  Spoiler alert (or maybe it’s a warning): Documentaries that can mist up the eyes of this 6’3” Wall St. tough guy are powerful.

Well ….. I say ”mist up”.  We tough guys cry in private when no one is looking. :-)

Christopher was exploring the subject of regrets in his Life and the lives of others and wanted to know if I would be willing to go on camera to revisit the regrets I had struggled with regarding Narender.  The film was to be entitled … wait for it …. “Regret”.

“Sure”, I thought.  “I haven’t had an opportunity to rip the scab off that mental wound in a while”.

What followed provided a powerful opportunity for those of us who participated to revisit and relearn (or learn anew) the power that our regrets hold over us – both positive and negative.

Many of us had an opportunity to cry again as we relived our pain.

But we had an opportunity for something else as well.

What was that opportunity?

You will have to check out the trailer for Regret to find out as Christopher prepares to debut the film at the Atlantic Film Festival on Sunday, September 15th.

Regrets can create anchors that weigh you down forever or they can create insight that reveals your greatest potential.

The choice is yours.

Which do you choose?

If you have regrets or know someone who struggles with them, check out Christopher Richardson’s powerful, riveting documentary Regret.  If you don’t have regrets or have never had them, Wayne Dyer and the Dalai Lama are looking for new presentation partners – call them immediately to sign up.

Regrets, like many of Life’s lessons, are better explored with the help, the shoulder and the company of others and the film Regret is no different.

Regret will create many questions within you and yes, it may rip scabs off a few of your own wounds.  It will force you to contemplate what you can live with and what you can die without.

But it may answer a few questions as well and offer a powerful salve for those wounds.

Trust me …. you won’t regret the Journey.

In service and servanthood,



I was intrigued by the poster for the movie Regret – sharing ….

Addendum – September 19, 2013

At the close of voting at the Atlantic Film Festival, the film Regret took the honor as the highest rated film at the event as determined by the Atlantic Film Festival audience. :-)



  1. Excellent. Especially regarding regret as being an anchor to one's life. How does one get rid of one of life's anchor is to make amends to the anchor. Sometimes it's as simple as saying sorry, other times it's more involved.

    Leviticus 26:15-39 describes the Five Cycles of Discipline that God places on a nation (1 = 15-17, 2 = 18-20, 3 = 21-22, 4 = 23-26, and 5 = 27-39). Each level is worse that the last until the final discipline. At each beginning verse there is the conditional word "IF" with the promise of restoration in verses 40-46, i.e. making amends to ones actions. IF one does not change their attitude, then it continues.

    So, just as 1 John 1:9 says, "If (conditional word) we confess (name, cite) our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins (known sins) and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (unknown sins)."

    So, it's about making amends, working toward making things right again.

    Good post, Harry.

    1. Amen, my friend! Thanks for your kind reply, Kevin!

  2. Harry the one regret I have that haunts me is my father or know our family history. To never know him for who he was. Over the last couple of days I found that I have an older half brother and two nieces. As I journey into a new relationship with my new found relatives the discovery of who my father was is disheartening. The worst part is that my father passed away in 1991 and there is no chance to talk with him. Out of every regret there is comfort to bring joy to others. I appreciate you Harry and our friendship.


    1. Thanks for your kind words and for sharing, Peter.

  3. Regrets for me are continued learning opportunities. The only way to get past a regret is to understand what I could have done differently and then (and this is the hard part) take responsibility for me actions and (again harder) change. I did not say everything to my mother and as a result when she passed there were sorrows and regrets around where we could have healed old wounds, I regret the time I spent working and missing out on events with my children. It is understanding the change we must make that allows us to be released from the weight of the regret.

  4. Kathleen, talk to your Mom, she hears you.......