The story of our home-grown modern Shakespearian tragedy figure, Oscar Pistorius, has once more provided more lessons which we would all do well to learn. Having now been found guilty of murder, he faces having to pay a lot more for his crime.
When he was originally found guilty of culpable homicide, he probably had a range of emotions that dominated his psyche. Regret was probably high up on the list, but the overwhelming emotion was probably that of relief – that he had got away with murder.
The relief has now long since been overtaken by the dominating emotion of regret. How many times must he not have thought, “If only I knew then what I know now – ” If he had known what anger, arrogance and pride can lead to, he would never have fired that weapon. He will, for the rest of his life, regret giving in, probably for a matter of minutes, to the anger, pride and arrogance that caused him to fire four shots through a locked toilet door, killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
He probably now knows that for every action there is a consequence – a lesson he had probably never been taught, by parents who understandably but mistakenly tried to overcompensate for his disability.
The story is, as described in the recent judgement by the Supreme Court of Appeal, a human tragedy of Shakespearian proportions. That is not a throw away comment but a very astute one. A Shakespearian tragedy is a story in which the noble protagonist (main character) who has much potential and many good points is put in a stressful situation and, because of one fatal flaw, acts in a way that results in a fatal conclusion.
It is a very sobering experience to see how closely life has imitated art. He had so much potential – to use his talents to do good – change the world for the better. Instead, his flawed actions have resulted in a fatal conclusion.
What he knows now will follow him and haunt him for the rest of his life.
But the question we need to ask ourselves is: what do we know now that we didn’t know “then” – at the beginning of this year, for example? Have you learnt anything of value this year?
If not, it has been a waste and you are doomed to repeat the mistakes you made this year until you learn the lessons life brought across your path.
As we draw to the end of another year, you may have a sense of regret about something you failed to achieve this year. It’s been a tough year and we’ve all had to face challenges we would rather not have faced.
With hindsight being an exact science, we can easily see what we should have done or not done when we look back. But living forwards is not as easy. We’re really not as good at that!
Don’t be too hard on yourself, therefore, and waste the next few weeks focusing on regrets that are not worthy of your attention. Rather use your energy to minimize the possibility of regret at the end of the next year.
The way to do that is to recognise that everything you do or say has consequences – either pleasant consequences (ones that benefit you) or unpleasant consequences (ones that hinder or obstruct you). Before you act or speak, consider the possible consequences, then act in accordance with the consequences you desire.