One of my biggest regrets in life has always been and will always be for not making effort. I regret the time, love, and energy I never gave the people who deserved it the most. And not even just people, but with things like education, reading, spiritual growth, et cetera. My motivation to do these things comes and goes, but I always regret not pushing myself despite my lack of interest. I rely on random spurts of energy to get me through the week and hope for the best, never realizing the true effects of my lack of investment. I don’t put in as much effort as I can and should, and I regret that all the time. And yet I still don’t do anything to change that.
One of the people that come to mind when I think about this topic is my grandpa. There has only been one time that I’ve been legitimately upset with him, but I realize now he deserved the benefit of the doubt. So, I’ve never had a negative relationship with him, but I never really had that deep of a relationship either. He deserved every ounce of my effort to work on that, he deserved every word that came into my mind that I wanted to share but didn’t, and he deserved all the love and effort I failed to give him. I just felt as though I missed out on my chance after years of never trying, and that it’d just be awkward if I randomly started investing more time into him. I always remember the way he called across the room in a crowd of people, saying, “Maili Daili! How are you?” I’d smile at him, and have a short conversation with him. But nothing more. I loved hearing his boisterous laughter across the dinner table when my brothers did or said something humorous. I remember seeing the way he loved my grandma and how special and unique their relationship was, always envying it and hoping to have something similar to it someday. I enjoy listening to his voice on audio or video clips, and miss his bear hugs every time I think of him. I have all of these memories, yet I couldn’t tell you his favorite color. I know people who weren’t his immediate family, and yet they know him better than I ever did. I never knew him as well as I should, and I never gave him the chance to know me either. Every day since his passing, I’ve come across topics I want to talk to him about or stories I want to tell that he’d find funny. And every day, I realize I can’t do that, and a surge of guilt and regret sweeps over me. I will always be thankful for the relationship we did have, but I always wish I had made the effort to make it even better. I know it’s tough to build a relationship with grandparents, but this realization has pushed me to talk more with my other grandparents and I love it so much. I get to hear stories from them, talk to them about my week, and ask how they’re doing. It’s so enjoyable and worth the time and energy.
I sincerely hope that those of you reading this who may be convicted to make an effort somewhere are not threatened with the danger of being utterly incapable of doing so. If the person hasn’t died or if there’s no way for communication, what’s keeping you from trying? I’m sure there are other valid reasons, but I doubt there are as many as you believe there to be. Even if your relationships are damaged, it’s never too late to try and fix that and make an effort. Be the one to try, be the one to heal what’s broken, and be the one to take the initiative, or no one will. There are tough conversations I’ve had to have with people, but things would never be fixed or communicated if I or the other person never said anything. I understand you may not want to, but that goes back to the motivation issue. You have to push yourself to do it. This is far easier said than done, and I’m somewhat hypocritical for saying that, but don’t just give up on it. Make the effort. If you don’t fix those damaged relationships, at the very least you should work on growing your healthier ones to be even better. Don’t just settle for what you have. Put the effort in to make someone’s day or to be there for them. People often don’t see the value in this, and so it’s shoved to the side, and we rely on our acclaimed dedications to each other to pick up the slack. Don’t be that person. Make the effort while you can, make someone smile, start a conversation that matters, lift people up when they’re down, love while there’s still someone to love. Just try.