I was going to intro with the lyrics of the older ballad that had a chorus about what “could’ve been”, but I didn’t know the title or composer. I did a search on Let’s Sing It and came up with 25 songs to sort through with “could’ve been” in the title. And that didn’t include the songs about the topic but with a different title. So rather than some cheesey lyrics to a classic hit, I think it would suffice to say that our culture is well atuned to wallowing in, and singing about, regret.
This morning I was reading a bit about King David returning victorious after a war with his son. Instead of dancing he was weeping and mourning the loss of his son. Apparently the guys who risked his life and came out winners were none to happy to see the tears. Finally his adviser came to David and told him to quit his crying or the army would desert him, feeling under-appreciated.
On my first reading, I was a bit miffed at the adviser. The King just lost a son! Give him a break. The reality is that he’s hurting. Let him mourn. But then I caught a line – the adviser said, “If [your son] were alive right now, we’d all be dead. Is that what you want?”
The reality was that the King’s son was an enemy. The King wasn’t mourning his son, he was mourning what could’ve been between he and his son, but had failed to exist.
The reality was that the King was hurting people around him with his tears.
I think coming to grips with the disappointments in life is a learned trait, a marketable skill. Though it looks good on the t-shirt to live with “no regrets”, I’m not sure people really accomplish it. Sometimes we wish life had taken a different direction. But I think the king’s adviser was trying to communicate that wishing what “could’ve been” can’t come at the expense of those in the “right now.” It’s simply not fair to those who love you to love someone or some thing who doesn’t exist (and perhaps never did) even more than those sitting right beside you. Through the lens of those glasses, those in the right now will never live up to expectations. They’ll never compare to a non-reality.
I’m trying to live that right now. We don’t know the life that could’ve been by staying where we were. So we can’t compare to it. But we can love what is with us right now. We can appreciate our surroundings and connect in any way we know how. And fully celebrate the victory.