What Would You Change? by Rich Paschall
If you could do your life over, what would you change? Would you choose a different career? Would you choose a different house or apartment? Would you consider living in another town? Another part of the country? A foreign country?
Would you travel more? Would you see other towns, other regions, other countries? Do you have adventures that remain unfulfilled? Do you wish to do more exciting things?
Here’s a big one for you to consider. Would you change your mate? Would you have more or fewer children? Would you stay single or get married, depending on your current circumstance?
Many people like to say that they would not change a thing. They would do everything the same way. Some say this defiantly so as if defending the life that they have led. That may be just a front, however, for certain family or friends. Would we really do things the same way?
No matter what we insist on to others, we all have made mistakes that we regret. Would we not change these mistakes, if only we had the chance? Would we not make better choices if we had the chance to choose again?
Do you recall a statement that you said, and now you wish you could take it back because it was insensitive? Do you recall the gossip that you took part in, only to realize later that it was just a way to put down a coworker, neighbor, or family member that you just did not like at the time? Wouldn’t the passage of time make us wise enough to refrain from such things? If we took part in these things with the knowledge of our lifetime in front of us, would we not take a different course?
Perhaps you have seen the article, frequently reposted on social media (I have seen it a number of times, anyway), that talks about The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. These were collected by a nurse and published in a book. It is summarized on the Guardian website here. The list indicates that if these people could live their lives again, they would not take the same paths. When they looked back from death’s door, there was plenty to change.
Top on the list was having the courage to live your own life, rather than that which was expected. As we grow up, there are expectations of parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers, and even our communities about what we should do in life. Our roles are frequently defined by others and we, as loyal children and friends, take the path expected of us. Would we now decide on “The Road Not Taken?”
Every male patient wished that they had not worked so hard. They missed family events or other adventures while they worked extra hours. From the perspective of the end of life, the choice was clearly a wrong one. Yes, many need to work harder to support their family, but did we choose work, when another choice would have been better on a particular day?
Many wished they had the courage to express their true feelings, that they had stayed in touch with old friends, or that they allowed themselves to be happier. Perhaps they regretted all of these things. So I ask the question again, what would you change if only you could?
If time and health are on your side, then you can still do many of the things you missed earlier. You can still make amends for bad choices, thus undoing some mistakes of the past. Of course, we can not now change everything, but that is no reason to be sad about the past. We can use what we learned to move forward with better choices.
I think the desire to make up for missing some things in the past is one of the emotions that gives rise to the “Bucket List.” Of course, you may put things on the list that are new to your thought processes, but how many of the things you would list now would actually be things you feel you missed out on in the past? Is there some adventure you should have pursued in the past that you can still do now?
While there are many decisions I regret from the past, and some that I regret now actually, I have one basic problem with a “Do-Over.” If I had made different choices in the past, would I still end up in the same place? You see, there are many things about the present I like as they are. If I had gone a different route, would I eliminate some of the things I like about today? Would some of my close friends be missing? Of course, I would not know they were missing if I had gone another way.
My jobs in air freight have allowed me to make new friends in other countries. In fact, one of my best friends lives in France. We have traveled to France, Germany, and England together as well as some of the USA. I can not now imagine a life that does not include him. I never thought of these travels or friendships when I was young, so I could not have consciously made the choice to end up where I am.
Because of my love of my current adventures and friends, I guess I really do not want a “Do-Over.” I just hope the knowledge I have gained from past mistakes will allow me to make better choices in the future.
From where you are right now, do you wish to go on with the knowledge you have gained, or would you rather have a “Do-Over” realizing it may take you to a different place?