“There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that…” said Red in Shawshank Redemption. Powerful words! I feel for Red every time I watch that scene, but that movie also conjures up questions about my own life.
A few years ago, some friends and I were sitting around, drinking a couple of beers and telling war stories of our youth. We covered all of our triumphs, our glory days, our conquests and even some of our bigger mistakes. At one point in time someone asked me, “If you had a chance to go back in time and change one thing in your life, would you do it?”
“Yes,” I said. “I would.”
I told them all about the moment in my life that I would change. I remember it vividly. The moment is burnt into my memory as a reminder of how the consequences of our decisions or our actions can change the course of our lives. There are times on a rainy afternoon when I am lounging around the house with nothing to do that I get caught up in a game of “what if?”
But let me digress for a moment. Before reading any further, I want you to sit back and honestly answer the following question, “If you could, would you go back in time and change one decision or mistake in your life?!” Or better yet, “If you could go back and do it all over again, knowing what you know now, would you?”
Go ahead, sit back and think about those questions for a moment. I’ll wait.
I was up late a few nights ago working on a project. The project involved going through all of our old photo albums and pictures. It involved reviewing, remembering and taking stock in my life. And as I worked into the wee hours of the morning on my project I discovered something about the game of “what if?”
When I graduated college, I was offered a job in Rhode Island. The job was low paying but had great advancement opportunities and I had no doubt in my abilities. I would have advanced quickly and been the cornerstone of the company. But when the offer was presented, there was a gnawing in my gut that told me to pass on the offer. So I passed.
Had I taken the job, I never would have met and married Stephanie. We never would have had our two amazing kids. Josh and Chloe never would have existed. The friendships I have forged and the memories we have all created would have been replaced. The last eighteen years of my life would have been irrevocably changed forever. Not just any part of my life, but the best part of my life over the past eighteen years would have just vanished. Poof! Gone!
I don’t know why I didn’t take the job back in Rhode Island. I blamed it on the paycheck way back when but that was just an excuse. I think destiny, fate, divine intervention or whatever else you want to call it helped me to realize that my life had a different game plan. I was supposed to walk a different path. So I passed on the job and the rest is history.
My life has worked out just perfectly. Sure there have been bumps in the road. There has been pain and tragedy, but there have also been moments of pure joy and love that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And if you think about it for a moment, the greatest stories ever told have all involved pain, adversity and tragedy. But then the main characters get to live “happily ever after!”
I am living my “happily ever after.” So to my friends who were in the room a few years ago when I misspoke, I would like to change my answer. There isn’t anything I would like to change about my life. The total sum of the experiences is my life. So I accept it all; the good, the bad and the ugly. Every experience I have had has made me who I am today and it has helped me to create a wonderful life for me, my wife and my children.