Mulligans and Second Chances
Hollywood likes the movies where people are given a second chance. In Peggy
Sue Got Married, Kathleen Turner is able to get a second chance at love with Nicholas Cage when she goes back in time to when they first fell in love. The series, Back to the Future, is all about changing the past and “righting the wrongs” of those days. Given the choice, there are many things that I would change about my own past, such as the choice to not spend every moment with my loved ones before they died. It is funny how there are “do-overs” in so many games or “first drafts” in writing, yet in life there really isn’t such things. You can only live life forward, from the choices that you have made.
Since we know that there isn’t a mulligan coming for my life, I understand that I am a much different person than I was at 15,16,17… I was caught up in myself (as a typical teenager) and was chafing at the boundaries of my parents and small town America. I have some wonderful memories of those times, such as pool parties, dances, school and friends. But I also have regrets. It is those regrets that make me wish for a“second draft”, to see if it would change the outcome. After all, if I only knew then what I know now… or if I was half the person then that I am now… but if wishes were fishes, we would all be fishermen.
So what things would you change if you could? I had the opportunity to face a fear that had been with me for a long time. In facing that fear, I wanted to free myself from that terror. After waking yet again from a nightmare centered on a person from my past, I vowed to not let this past event dictate my life today. In reaching out to this person, I have come to understand that I (me, myself and I) have been the one to hold on to this pain, rather than let it go. It obviously wasn’t painful to this person and their perceptions of things were very different than mine.
But isn’t that always the way it is? Ask two different people to recount an event,
and the event will be unique to each person. Their interpretation will be flavored
with their morals, life experiences, and beliefs. Each person’s version is “real” or “true” for them.
My life is much different today than it was when I was 16, yet this person
still frightened me. I would wake up in terror, 25 years after the events,
yet I couldn't allow myself to continue to be frightened by the past and my
memories. Why did I contact that person? I needed to see that my fears were bigger than they needed to be. I needed to see that they were just a person, not this horrible monster. And maybe I needed to give myself permission to accept my part in the big picture, take responsibility for my choices. I am who I am because of my choices and whether they were good or bad, I will not let them dictate my life.
If Hollywood was going to put this story on the screen, it would come with a happy ending. The conflicted heroine would stop herself from making those same mistakes and thereby prevent the anguish it caused. But life isn’t that simple… or is it? Can we simply edit our “screen play” by forgiving ourselves for not being all knowing? Can we allow ourselves the opportunities to learn from our mistakes and accept that who we are today is because of all the choices, good or bad, we have made in our lives? Simple…hmmm… Hollywood, cue the ending credits!
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