Image by dinesh_valke via Flickr
Ah, the lasting, haunting ghosts of youth. Can we ever truly exorcise them?
I made a lot of mistakes as a young, dumb kid growing up. Not that I had every advantage, mind you, but I didn’t take the future seriously until it was WAY too late. Trust me … waaaaaay too late.
And so it is that, when I need to be a responsible adult and carry on my back the responsibility of the care for three people besides me, that burden becomes very, very heavy indeed.
So I go about doing what I need to do to take care of my family, and the world wants none of it. I mean it will hear none of it, whatever. It’s not the world’s fault, mind you, it’s mine – but there’s a certain level of disgusted, agonized and coppery burn in the back of my mouth as I recognize the world has moved happily onward and I … well, can’t.
It’s all very complicated, and difficult for anyone to understand who isn’t living in my shoes. But that’s all right, I gave up on people understanding our plight a long time ago. When even family turned their back on us and friends became scarce, I knew I’d have to abandon the idea of understanding as I understood it … so to speak. And that’s fine, I can accept that. There’s something abhorrent and despicable about someone floundering, and for all the rest of the world knows, “loser” might be contagious. Keep it away!
So then, I’m always faced with difficult and exceedingly limited prospects, year in and year out. Again, no one’s fault but my own. I had pretty grandiose dreams for myself at this age twenty years ago. I don’t know how I thought I’d achieve them, exactly, but I knew there would be no money issues and worries for me when I was in my forties. Alas, time has a way of stripping our illusions away, and here I am, still struggling, though not quite as much as I did in my twenties.
I know most of us have one thing we’d probably like to go back and change if we could. If we had a time machine we’d set the history of us right, and make sure the path is smoother, straighter, wider. For me, that’s not a one-time journey back unless I go all the way into my pre-teen years. It only works if I retain the memories of the errors I made along the way too. It would take several time machine trips to right the list on this ship, I’m afraid. And I’m afraid no amount of ballast will be enough to correct the pitch and yaw.
What about you? If there’s only one thing you could change about your past, just one critical mistake you made that you’d undo, what would it be? (Provided you can talk about it publicly, of course, and are willing to share.) Where’s that one spot, that one step where you zigged when you should have zagged? What would you do over if you had just one Mulligan on life?
God bless you.
PS — Thank God for my beloved wife, who stands by me through thick, thin and in-between. I wouldn’t have survived without her.