On regret...

“If only I could live my life again and do the right thing this time.  To my shame, I heeded the advice of my companions to do nothing.  They said that no hospital or refuge would accept the child, who obviously had been abandoned by his mother to join the army of street children in the city.  I stepped around him and continued on my way.”

 (James Bartleman remarking on a 1968 encounter on the streets of Bogata, Colombia in Out of Muskoka, 2002)


A couple of nights ago I was visiting a friend and, unable to sleep, read Mr. Bartleman’s moving memoir. Because I had recently had conversations around motivation in charity work and taking care of others, one paragraph stuck.  In the morning I pulled the book back off the shelf, rifled through and copied down the words quoted above.   I considered more deeply the concepts of, among others, right/wrong, good/bad, goals, vision and sacrifice.


What really is the ‘right’ thing?  For Mr. Bartleman, although I am not sure that one child is not representative of something larger,  it  appears it would have been picking up an orphan against the advice of colleagues.  I cannot say for sure as Mr. Bartleman’s meaning is his own but I can say that one action may well have changed the course of his life, certainly the child’s.  In an instant he had to consider if he was willing to accept this challenge in his path or not.  He chose to stay his course.


Life has no ‘back’ button and I would say to Mr. Bartleman that for him, like us all, we must consider what we want to write on our pages and go forward.  If once in a while we must step around because we cannot, at that moment, detour from our present course then no one may judge… the hardest job is judging ourselves.   Tomorrow we can turn the page and there is nothing on it.   There will, sadly, always be another child waiting. When we are ready to risk altering the course of our own life we will pick it up.  And we will go forward.

Join Lisa

Sign up to receive updates on what is happening in the Nomad2Nomad World. Your email address will not be shared.