The Tough Trade-Offs in Life

Dear Reader:

As children didn’t we always love finding hidden alcoves or closets in grandparents’ or great-aunts’ attics…any small space in which to hide became a favorite childhood haunt.

There was something so alluring about the possibility of a novel entrance into a new world…conjured up in the magical wonder and imagination of a child’s mind.

John Muir, the great naturalist and journeyman, never outgrew his awe and wonder at nature and the hidden jewels and pathways within.

However…upon seeing this title poster…my thoughts went in a different direction. Summed up in two words the two pines represented different types of doorways…risk and regret.

As each of us follow our own unique paths through life we have some tough choices to make… based on a precarious balancing act of scales….one weighing in as risk…the other regret.

We have all heard pastors, motivational speakers, older relatives express similar sentiments about the precarious crossings in life in which we are asked to take a risk or live to regret lost opportunities.

The sage advice always ends with the conclusion that is better to risk and fail than regret never taking a chance at a life-altering opportunity. Moral of the lesson: Don’t die with lots of regrets.

Easier said than done…right? It we could just live our lives, in hindsight, wouldn’t it make our decision-making skills so much easier…to already know the foregone conclusion based on which choice we chose.

But that is not how life works….life is beautiful but it is also messy, confusing, and downright crazy.

Author David Nurse defined the two terms in this fashion:

” Regret is like a present wrapped beautifully that you are opening on Christmas Day…only to open the box and find there is nothing in it. So much promise, leads to so much let down. 

Risk, even with pain of potential failure, fills that box and ensures that it is never empty when you go down to open up the gift You have produced five years from now, three years from now… year from now.”

If you do nothing…the gift will always be empty.

As I have reflected on my own risk-taking skills in life…I realize now that they evolved in me over an extended period of time.

It is easier to be a risk-taker when you are the only one involved…but I remember thinking my risk-taking days were over when I found myself a single parent with three children…praying to stretch the budget through another month…there was little room financially to spare…to take risks.

But I was lucky…God wasn’t letting me off that easy. He sent guardian angels from Charleston Southern University to “talk some sense in me” that it was imperative that I get my Masters. The instructors reminded me that children grow up and move out…what then?

Economically…if I had my Masters I could supplement my income with teaching undergraduate courses, summer seminars, special programs, etc. I was told bluntly I couldn’t afford “not” to get my Masters.

In those days each course ran about $500 dollars I remember…I got ADK scholarships each year, used my tax refunds to set aside for one more course…family guardian angels went in together and gave me a “course” for my birthday or holiday.

It took awhile but I graduated the night after my oldest child, Mandy, graduated from Georgia Southern. Nothing is impossible when God sets you on His course! God doesn’t like seeing His children carry regrets with them instead of hope and success. He always find a way…if we let Him lead.

So until tomorrow…

Let us remember that the purpose of pain vs. the feeling of regret is part of our life’s journey…only we, with God’s help, can decide if the pain is worthier than the final regret. Prayers are needed in times like this…and even more so…staying open to the response.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Speaking of prayers…thank you for your prayers and well-wishes for the Clarkson family…Betsy…the family appreciated your spiritual contributions so much…They met with a cardiologist that mother/daughter both liked very much…and the doctor thinks there is an underlying cause for the high heart rate and subsequent residual side effects.

The cardiologist has a plan and Betsy will be meeting and undergoing some exploratory procedures to narrow down the diagnosis and future treatments throughout the month of March.

Another beautiful day in the lowcountry…..Honey and Mike went to Asheville for her birthday and out for dinner at their favorite restaurant… Hope y’all had you a wonderful time!

In the lowcountry…this was my daily viewing….

  1.  Neighbors walking dogs or riding bikes are pulling up in my yard to ask where I got that beautiful planter….thank you Honey…historical Pine Forest Inn.

2) Little “Bliss” my favorite statue is so happy to be surrounded by blooming flowers again.

3) How I love my white camellias…they take my breath away.

4) My English daisies love their new home and showing off for the walkers and strollers on Rainbow Road

*I had to laugh….Tommy said that Pip, his assistant helper at work, is literally falling down on the job…sleeping through it.

“This is his new thing now. He forces me to put him on top of my desk on a pillow. Otherwise he wants to sit in my lap or next to me in my chair.” 

I stopped by Susan’s today and she excitedly told me she found a place for a Christmas succulent I gave her…she couldn’t find it a happy place where it would thrive and then remembered this adorable window she has at the top of one of the bathroom walls … it is doing beautifully now…Location, location, location!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Tough Trade-Offs in Life

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Fred did a paper on John Muir for a recertification course taught by Rudy Mancke…it was fascinating learning about him and his love for nature. When you talked anout risks it made me think about leaving my job at the library at the College of Charleston…accepting a library assistant position at FES for a third of the salary and getting no credit for 8 1/2 yrs of working i. W different academic libraries… having twins thst were 15 months old with childcare expenses and Fred finishing his Master’s at the Citadel…no family here to help with babysitting…and I started my Master’s at USC to become a school media specialist..and the administrative assistant told us that I only had 3 yrs to complete the program…well it wad worth the risk because I got it and loved every minute of being a media specialist…


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Isn’t it nice to be in the happy place now where you can reflect on the past and congratulate yourself for taking the risk you worried over for so long….God had it all the time! :)…


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