While the idea of going back in time and altering an event sounds like a dream come true to some, it is short sighted to think that ‘everything would be better’ that way. Though many of us would love to roll back the clock and skip out on experiences that were painful and re-live the ones that brought happiness, we wouldn’t be where we are today without having gone through both good and bad.
I remember specific instances in my life where I was distraught because what I wanted very badly to happen didn’t pan out. Dreams were crushed, plans were tossed out the window, and misery seemed my only company. However, later in life I can look back with humility, thankful that each circumstance played out exactly as it did. Some of the things that have happened in my life contributed to very high highs and equally low lows. The degree of emotion I felt only added to the difficulty in moving on, and I began to keep track of these moments in life so that when I faced another hardship, I could look back at the list and have faith that the future was secure, that my life was not in ruins, and that I have much to look forward to.
The first memorable instance of wanting to turn back the clock occurred when I was in 8th grade. I was competing in a summer league swim team meet, attempting to qualify for a regional competition. At this point in life, I was having a difficult time choosing whether to pursue swim team in high school, or opt for band as my elective. I really enjoyed both and thought this race might help me decide. Long story short, the first qualifying race was interrupted by a false start. False starts are indicated by ringing the buzzer several times so swimmers know to stop and turn back. As the buzzer sounded to initiate the second attempt, I heard the first beep, followed by a short second beep. I stopped mid-stroke, thinking another false start occurred. When I surfaced, almost everyone else was still racing down the lanes. It wasn’t a false start, but rather a mistake by the starter. I had to continue the race from a standstill in the water. Needless to say, I didn’t get a qualifying time. I talked to the officials, but there was nothing they could do. While I was quite angry and upset, this event influenced my decision to choose band over swimming in high school. In the end, I played in the top band and was voted ‘president’ my senior year. I made so many friends that I still keep up with today. Had the swim meet gone differently – well, who knows?
Another example is when I was looking for a place to live once I graduated. I had selected a cute condo unit that seemed like a perfect fit. I was asked to send my application by fax, but the fax machine at my apartment complex was not working correctly. I ended up going across town to a Kinko’s office where I was able to send off my application. However, I received news the next day that my application was received just after the unit was promised to another applicant – right around the time I was en-route to Kinko’s. I was quite upset, as it left me with only one week to secure housing, and I was back to square one. If only the fax machine had worked at my apartment…well, if that machine had worked, I wouldn’t be living in the condo I now own.
Perhaps the most recent example is that of our property search. My husband and I found a great infill lot a block from our current home. While it was not much to look at, the price was amazing and so was the location. I came up with a design for it in two days. We were pretty excited, and got through almost the entire process but were stopped in our tracks by the energy company. The adjacent power line would prevent us from building our home there, and we had to walk away. A few weeks later, we did a search – on a whim – for other properties, sure of ourselves that no other opportunities existed like the one that fell through. It was part desperation and part indignation that inspired us to search, but there it was: a larger property in our price range across from a public park. We were in disbelief. We immediately called the Realtor and began the due diligence process. Two months later, we sat at closing, happy with this ‘non-existent’ opportunity that we wouldn’t have investigated had we not lost out on our ‘first choice’.
I could recount several more examples of not getting my way that ended up being the best thing for me. If things had always gone my way, my life would be quite different. Truthfully, I don’t think I’d change the course of my history at all, even if given the opportunity. What I would change would be my attitude, my reactions, and my perspective. Luckily, I don’t have to travel through time to do that.