On the nights that I have trouble falling asleep or at times when I can’t focus on any particular activity, my thoughts turn to rewriting my personal history and resetting my life. We all have moments in our lives that we recognize as turning points and game changers. Some were big and some small. Some good and others not. I tend to go back to the embarrassing moments or the moments when I didn’t trust my instincts and made a choice that committed me to something I later regretted.
An idea sneaks into my head: If I can remember the moment fully, in every detail, and completely immerse myself, could I rewind time and relive my life from that moment? Science has proved that time is not exactly linear. Experiments have proven that paying attention changes actions and outcomes. I know the moments that I’d go back to. Do you?
The two most recent moments:
1) When I got the email from my boyfriend’s estranged wife telling me they weren’t divorced and I found out he’d lied to me. I wouldn’t give him a pass. I wouldn’t subsequently feel responsible when their arrangement to share their residence (since his mother also lived with them and had contributed money to the purchase) failed and let him move in on a “trial” basis. I’d go slower on the relationship and I don’t know where we’d have wound up.
2) When I attended the Diamond Resorts promotion and got talked into adding points to my existing time share. The maintenance fees are high and resort availability where I want to go is little to none. I did get two vacations in Hawaii with my mom and sister (Maui and Kauai), but I’m inclined to return it to the company once the financing is paid off.
In both cases, I felt the kind of drop in my stomach that you get coming over the crest of a roller coaster when you begin to fall. I should’ve paid more attention, but I had an idea of how I expected my life to unroll and what it should look like.
The first time I felt it as an adult, I took the promotion out of the Central Appointments section of the Fort Polk Army Hospital into a data processing center. At that time, as a GS-05, I was on a monthly rotating shift and in the lowest position on that shift. Data processing was a lot more mechanical than it is now. I converted things: tape to microfiche, punch cards to 8″ floppy diskette, multiple formats to dot matrix printouts. I had the option of returning to my former job, but we received orders from the Army to move to Alaska. I decided to tough it out for a few months instead. If that hadn’t happened, I would’ve gone back. The raise wasn’t worth it.
I really wonder how many people have similar tales. I bet everyone does. And I wonder how often we let external conditioning override our internal alarms. The trick is to learn from it and make the mistake less frequently!