“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana, Spanish American philosopher
My lovely wife and I had the great pleasure of attending Theatre Collingwood’s production of Beside Myself in late August.
“What’s it about?” she asked a few days before the show.
“Not exactly sure, but I think it’s a musical comedy about a couple in an unhappy marriage going back in time to make different life decisions”.
“WTF? Are you trying to send me a message?”
“Uh … no comment.”
All I remember after that was our frying pan coming towards me and then the stars and tweety birds. The doctor says I should be fine in a few more weeks.
But we made it to the show, still married, and Beside Myself was incredibly charming and entertaining. Four actors in total, two playing the married couple now in their mid 50’s and two playing them as 19 year-olds, with lots of laughs, tears and songs along the way.
And of course, that great question: if you could go back in time, what would you change?
For many of my clients I’m sure it’s something they think about every day. Being charged with a criminal offence can have long lasting implications, potentially impacting one’s freedom, relationships, employment and social and economic status. What would they have done differently if given the opportunity?
And what about other past life decisions for all of us – education choices, career paths, trips, home locations, friendships and life partners? Different decisions way back then and we’d be in strangely unrecognizable positions and places today. As John Irving wrote in A Prayer For Owen Meany, “I can almost imagine I have had a life very different from the life I have had.”
However, unless and until our world’s bright minds figure out time travel, these considerations are all fanciful and without any practical value. The bigger and more concrete concerns are where are we now and in what direction are we headed. Whether it’s for the next year, or 20 or 50 years, there’s lots of life left to live.
Learn from the past and move forward with wisdom, confidence and without regret. Fortune favours the bold. And be a little like Yogi Berra - when you come to the fork in the road, just take it.
What would you have done differently in the past and, more importantly, what future life decisions are you going to make? Questions to consider alone in the quiet of your mind or in conversations with the people most important to you. Just watch out for the flying frying pans …