Wisdom and knowledge comes with experience. We gain them through our challenges and triumphs that life throws at us. Not one person is safe from life, there is no escaping death, it happens to us all. So how does one live with the life they have? If you were given the chance, would you go back and change something that happened? What if you could have a different life? Would that change the wisdom and knowledge you gained? Who would you be today if you did go back and change a decision?
I was recently walking, busting up laughing at my favourite podcast - Handsome, seriously, go listen to it, when the question of the week came up. Conan O'Brien asked the hosts if they could go back in time and change one big event, what would it be? At first there was talk of large global events, war, industrial eras, Covid, the larger events that caused a massive shift in humanity. After the global events came talk of personal events in your life. Mae started talking about how they kind of love the life they have now and that if they had gone back and changed one thing, it may have turned out differently. This subject always gets me thinking. Books like The Midnight Library (Matt Haig) and The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie (Rachel Linden) follow the same premise, what if you could go back and change something from your past. Would you do it? If you did, what would your life look like now? I find these thoughts fascinating, especially as of late (perhaps my mid-life crisis). One small decision, one small change could drastically alter the life you would have led. Think about all the the decisions you made, some big and some small, and how they each led you to where you are today. If you changed one of them, even the slightest one, your life could look vastly different. We make choices everyday, we alter the path of our future everyday through those choices. Its one reason I don't necessarily believe in regret. You, at the time, made a choice, you made a decision that you deemed to be the right one at the time, you went with what felt right for you at that moment. I do understand not every decision in your life has been your choice, sometimes we are faced with things we had no control over. Those aren't the moments I am talking about. I mean the ones where we actively made a decision based on what we wanted. How can we regret something we once wanted?
I think its one reason so many adults struggle these days. We aren't taught while growing up that life is composed of millions of decisions, everyday, and that life rarely goes according to plan. It can be wild and crazy and bad shit can happen and you still have to get up everyday and figure out a way to live on. I think that's why a lot of people really think about this question. What if you had made a different decision? Whether you love your life now or it's one you want to change (the good thing is, it's never too late to change, you can make new decisions and choices everyday for the life you want, you don't have to stay stuck) but what would your life have looked like had you gone down a different path? I can guarantee you, its not what you imagine it would be because as adults we've all learned that, that's not how life works. Maybe you gave up the love of your life and wonder what would have happened had you give a chance to the nerdy guy in high school who was sweet. Where would you be today? Would you have that dream life? Maybe in some aspects but there would have still been challenges and life may have thrown so many curve balls, that love fizzled and could not be relite. Maybe you gave up a dream career to take care of ailing family members or be a stay at home mom and you wonder what would have happened had you taken the career over family? You would miss out on knowing the love and unconditional support of family, the love a career couldn't give you. You may have had more personal self esteem and reflection of who you are if you had a career but there are many levels to a person, career is just one.
Life is about give and take and while many of us probably have thought about making different choices in our past, life would still happen. It is also through all of these events that we have gained wisdom and knowledge, which make us who we are today. While it may be comforting or distracting to think about the different lives we may have lived had we chosen different decisions, it is often in the present day that we really find that this is the life worth living. The one we are already in and if we had made different decisions, if we went back and changed one thing, this would not be the life we would have but maybe it would be the life we were thinking about, maybe its the life that you would wonder how it turned out. You would be a different person, your wisdom and knowledge would be different, your outlook on life would be different.
Maybe for me it's because my life has been a wild ride, and I mean absolutely bat shit crazy, can't believe it ride. I have been through hell and back and faced my share of challenges. I struggle today because of those challenges but I have also triumphed. I finally feel like the life I have now is the one I had dreamed of. There are aspects missing and I'm not fond of the trauma it has left me with but it did make me the person I am today and all the decisions I made brought me to this life. It sometimes is hard to accept but even more so, it doesn't feel real. I do wonder how my life would have turned out had I made different decisions. But I know for certain, I would have still faced challenges, different yes but I would not have been immune to what life threw at me, it would have just been different. I may not have coped as well, I may not have been here today. I will never know and even if I do linger somedays on thinking about what life may have looked liked, I like where I am and all those choices and decisions I made brought me to this moment so no, I would not go back and change anything. Even the smallest of things could have catapulted me into a different direction. Is it going to stop me from sometimes wondering how life may have looked if I had done this or that? No, that will still happen, I think it's human nature. But in all of this thinking, in reading these books and listening to this episode in the podcast, it has led me to see that the life I am living is the one I am meant to have. I still have plenty of decisions and choices to make and that will change my future but I will only know what that looks like when it happens. Will there be a day in my future I look back on today and the choices and decision I made and wonder what if? Yeah, there will be. It will always be there but it doesn't mean I would want to go back and change anything. So what about you, would you go back and change something from your past?