Years ago, doing yoga every day sounded like an unhealthy obsession to me. It was for crazy people. I hadn’t yet experienced the emotional balance, the spiritual grounding or the simple joy of getting on my mat every day. But when I tried it–when I got on my mat once a day, every day, and started feeling the effects–I never looked back.
Till I was in my 20s, my experience of cemeteries had always been tightlipped and somber. All the unwound knots remained tangled in my belly, and if you spoke, you spoke in whispers.
So imagine my happy disorientation when friends brought me to my first Italian cemetery on November 1st, 1975, All Saints Day. When I walked through the gates of their Camaiore cemetery, my jaw literally dropped. It was a celebration! A wild, exuberant, joyful riot of flowers and family full of love and respect for their dead.
For the past two and a half decades, yoga has deepened me in countless ways. One of those ways is that am less held hostage by my regrets and more present for my Now. This has brought me much peace, to the extent that I can actually do it. So as I think back on the Italian cemetery, it dawned on me: why not celebrate the Day of the Dead not only for those who have passed, but for my past itself, especially past regrets. A Day of the Dead Regrets.
Think about it. We spend so much time wringing our hands over mistakes we made, or yearning for our former strengths. One valid response is, “Be here now.” Yeah, nice bumper sticker. But so much harder to actually do.
Here’s an idea: What if we could buy a gorgeous bouquet and offer it to the gravesite of our past? What if we laid lilies of gratitude, respect, honor and love on the graves of everything we messed up? Everything we did right, but can’t do anymore? What if we bowed with reverence to everything without exception in our past…and acknowledged the ways in which all those things pointed us more clearly toward home? Honoring our big mistakes and faded triumphs like we honor our dead.
Today, I turn November 1 into the Day of the Dead Regrets. I honor my living beings who have passed, and with them, my past strengths and failures as well. I invoke that Italian cemetery, brimming with beauty, joy and community, and love every single thing that I’ve been through. I bow, and leave my flowers there…
Happy Day of the Dead Regrets.