By Joseph J. Mazzella

My daughter was leafing through some old photo albums the other day when she laughed and pulled out an old picture to show me. There I was a skinny 12 year old with thick, bushy, brown hair. I looked down at the picture and smiled. Only one thought was on my mind: “If only I knew then what I know now.”

If I knew then what I know now: I would have slept in less and watched the sunrise more. I would have gone barefoot in the grass earlier in the spring and later in the fall. I would have eaten Nana’s Sunday dinners more slowly, savoring every bite. I would have read more books and watched less TV. I would have played fetch with my dog every time he wanted to. I would have paid less attention to how I looked and more attention to how I treated those around me.

If I knew then what I know now: I would have hugged my Mom and Nana every day and told them how much I loved them. I would have listened better when my Dad told me stories of his youth. I would have argued less with my brothers. I would have been kinder to that little girl in school who liked me so much. I would have rejoiced in the joys of each new day and not worried about the problems of tomorrow.

If I knew then what I know now: I would have danced more, laughed more, and sang more no matter who was watching. I would have not cared a bit what other people thought of me. I would have cared a whole lot more, however, about what God thought of me. I would have been fearless in showing my love, sharing my joy, and living my life. Sadly, I didn’t know then what I know now. None of us do. All we can do is continue to learn, to grow, and to love. All we can do is make our future better than our past. All we can do is our best and hope it makes God and the angels smile.