I think people always wish for a do-over. Secretly, when it’s just them, and they can be honest… perhaps the only time they can be truly honest about anything, they wish for a re-enactment.
The moment they’re alone, on sleepless nights, and all the old tricks in the book are exhausted, all diversions lost or inaccessible, they sit up and trace a deceiving image: “What if this happened instead?”
“What if I had said something differently?”
A whole new story materialises in their minds and, for a while, reality is completely erased and a sense of inexplicable happiness, a sort of peace takes over their consciousness. I’d say that is the very definition of a false sense of security. The mind is, after all, the worst prison of all.
“What if?” is a poisonous beginning of a sentence… when it comes to living, breathing, existing. It has the power to immerse you in a fantasy that can neither be achieved, nor easily forgotten. It can make your insides churn and burn. It envelops you so deeply, you get stuck in a loop of forever wondering how you could bring this fictional event to life, what shape it could have taken, had it been real; how colourful or monochromatic it would have been, and what how others would have perceived it, or said about it.
It is wishful thinking at its finest, and if you’re not careful, much like any parasitic thought, it will consume every ounce of peace from your mind and replace it with the poison of regret.
There is an old saying that goes a bit like this: “May God give you the strength to accept what you cannot control and change what you can.” And that is the advice I’ll strive to live by, from today onwards.
Instead of thinking of life through the dreary, foggy lenses of the past, and tormenting yourself over and over again with bittersweet delusions of “what if’s”, try to start anew. A new beginning.
This life we live, is a gift. Believe it or not, it really is. God, the universe, Karma or a mere chemical reaction, regardless of which one you believe to be true, allowed us to be here. We are presently breathing, we’re feeling, we’re thinking, we’re alive. What a pity it is to spend these precious days and nights stuck in an interminable loop of doubt and fantasy.
Our existence on this Earth is finite, we only get a number of years here, and what happens after, we won’t get to know for sure until we are meant to. A couple of years is barely enough time to fully discover what it means to be alive rather than just existing. Therefore, we cannot possibly waste it wondering how things would have turned out, if we had said something different, taken a different decision, avoided a certain mistake. We cannot wonder if the outcome would have been different, because we will never be able to change it, and it will just eat away at our souls, bit by bit, for as long as we think about it. That is a slow, agonising death for our emotions.
Instead, what we can do is only look ahead, keep that bad experience and let it be just that: an experience, a lesson. Whether you’re in the wrong, or someone else is. Whether it’s heartache or the loss of a treasured friendship, or even something worse. We cannot change that it happened. This life we live is not a fantasy novel or a sci-fi movie; there is no turning back time. All we have is people, memories and lessons. The key is to take everything in and reflect on it. And by reflect, I don’t mean torturing yourself with delusional stories, but thinking of how that certain event can help you grow, how it should affect your future actions in order to change yourself for the better, or be more attentive, or learn how to accept and apologise for your mistakes.
That chapter is closed, the sentence is way past being run-on, and no semi-colon can save it. In front of you, there should be a blank page. A new beginning. A fresh start.
If you keep re-reading the same sides of a book, the words will start to morph together, and its meaning will be lost or worse, turned into something uglier than what it had actually been. And the loop will never end, you will never see what other things you can write down, what else lies ahead.
We fill out the pages of our lives every day, until we get old, and can’t anymore. That should be the only moment we spend flipping back through the book and re-reading the best chapters. Imagine how it would feel if you couldn’t find these chapters because the time you should have spent writing them was wasted dwelling on things you couldn’t have possibly changed.
This is my first blog post, and I thought it would only be appropriate to write about looking forward, moving on. Because this is a new chapter that I’m starting, and I hope I can somehow inspire others to start theirs as well.
I used to feel powerless in regard to my life, to my fate, to my very existence. I still feel this way sometimes, and I’m not sure I could ever get truly get over it. But I’m choosing to try. I’m choosing to stop twiddling my thumbs and think that all I do, could have been done better, if I had had an opportunity to re-do it. That toxic thinking is a self-fulfilling prophecy waiting to happen, and I know I can do better than that. Anyone who tries, can. All we need may just be something or someone to open our eyes, and show us that what happened, the past itself, does not determine your future, unless you give it the power to.
We really are the architects of our own destiny. We decide when to start a new chapter for ourselves.
So, in the moments when you overthink, when you wish for a second chance, for a do-over to change a certain event, remember that you can’t really have it. The only time machines available to us are watches, and they are never going to tick backwards. What we can control though, is what we take from an experience, what we learn from it, and how we can use it to go forward. Start anew. A clean slate. Blank as snow.