I have no idea from where, but I’ve heard there are four things that can never be recovered: the stone after it’s thrown, the word after it’s spoken, the occasion after it’s missed, and the time after it’s gone.
After some introspective thought, I realize that these four things can be interpreted endlessly. From each person comes a different perspective. Each of us has different life stories to which we would apply these principles. Each person might have their own “stone” they’d wish they’d never thrown, their own word they’d wish they’d never uttered and their own occasions they’ve missed. Also, I think that some of these can play into each other, perhaps more than one of them applying to the same situation in our lives. Whatever the case, I’m not here to interpret it for you.
Yet, I think we’ve all got a story to tell wherein we have at least one of these things that we’d love to recover.
I do. My “stone”? I’d say throwing a stone would hurt someone, or perhaps damage something. It might cause irreparable damage, or perhaps a permanent scar, or it might be a temporary hurt it’s caused, but it still stings. Years ago, I made a decision. I threw a stone, not really thinking any further. Truth is, I threw a number of stones. They all looked very similar, and really, I was doing the same thing over and over again. To this day, I can’t honestly explain why I chose to throw them. But much like little boys that throw rocks, I hadn’t thought it through. I hadn’t really considered any of the consequences. At the time, I even knew there would be consequences. Yet I chose to throw the figurative stone anyway.
Turns out, taken together, these stones made up a big stone. Not a pebble that might cause a slight ripple in the lake of life. Nope. This was one of those monsters that you need to granny throw, because it’s so big. Remember those? Those that hit the surface with might, followed by a tremendous “ka-SPLOOSH”? And the ripple effect afterward threatened to capsize a number of little ships in the vicinity. Yes, one of them was mine. But worse, my family was in another. And friends in another. I am so very grateful that the ripples managed to smooth out again, as they tend to do, and that the damage I caused remains but a scar. A scar that won’t ever be forgotten, but it will continue to heal and slowly fade. Boy, I wish I could recover that stone I threw.
Words we speak. Yeah, as soft as that sounds, it can have the exact effect that thrown stone can. First of all, you can’t recover it. And secondly, words often speak much louder than actions. And they can leave a much deeper wound behind. Wounds in our hearts hurt more and heal slower, after all. And yes, I’ve cast words to the wind that I wish I could recover. I’ve done it my whole life. I don’t try to. But it’s during those times where we’re not thinking – that’s when those “if I could only recover it” words are spoken. And whether we put thought into what those words might do to someone or not, they still stand a fantastic chance of having a deep impact on someone.
I’ve said words to my kids that I wish I could take back. I’ve often lost my cool, after having asked something over and over and over. I’ve finally had it, and hit my measure. And I’ve lashed out. Just a word or two. But they hurt. They stung. I could see it in their eyes, before the last syllable even passed my lips. And I wished so badly that I could recover those words. But you can’t. You simply can’t.
Occasions that are missed and time that is gone play together for me. Sure, I could come up with examples of each, and plenty of them. I know we all could. But I have one that will always stick out in my mind. It goes back to 1994. And it is a period of time that has been forever burned into my memory. I think about it a lot – even after 19 years.
It’s when my daddy died. He spent two weeks in the hospital at the end of his life. I had plenty of occasion to be elsewhere. I had plenty of things to do with my time. I was 20 years old. I had a girlfriend. I had places to go, things to do, people to see. I could have had valid excuses to be anywhere but with my dad. But I am so glad I took the opportunity – that I didn’t let the occasion pass, nor the time fly by – to be there at his side. I learned more about myself and life and strength and my daddy’s soul in those two weeks than I had in the previous 20 years.
And when I held his hand during his last breath, and when he finally let go, I knew that I could say I had not wasted one single second of my last two weeks. I knew that an occasion had come that I hadn’t let pass. And time had come, that wouldn’t come by again. But I will never sit back, consider those days, and want to recover that time. I spent it well.
The moral of this story? As I said – I’m positive that, regardless of the size of stone, the harshness of the word, the importance of the occasion – we all have some of these that we want to recover. I do. I’m OK with it. I’m only human, after all.
But when I contemplate those stones I wish I hadn’t thrown, and how badly I’d love to recover them. Or when I shake my head at the words I’ve spoken, and wish they’d never come from me, I also try to focus my attention on those stones I’ve thrown where it’s made a difference. A good one. And those words I’ve spoken that I’d never wish to recover – rather, I wish I’d said more of them and louder and to more people. And I think of those times, that will never come back but that I spent perfectly and those occasions that I didn’t miss.
And I try to be thankful for each one of them. And I hope when my time here is done, I can look back and smile, and though none of them are recoverable, that these good stones, healing words and fulfilling occasions and times well-spent will far outweigh the bad ones.
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