The truth about do-overs

There’s something unique about senior years in high school. Largely, they include things you’ll do for the first time and things you’ll do for the last time. I edited a school newspaper for the first time in my life and, just before graduation, for the last time. I acted (well sort of) and sang in Oklahoma! for the first and, so far, for the last time. I produced a talent show and haven’t done that since I graduated with my fellow 350 classmates, most of whom I’ve not seen since.

I’ve thought about reprising my senior year and playing certain things out differently—no doubt carefully applying the benefits that being older and wiser afford. I’d probably be friendlier and more outgoing. I’d be less concerned about being popular and more about helping others without regard for their place in the school. I’d befriend more people, ask more questions, help more folks, appreciate my parents more, find fewer faults, praise others more often, and find the courage to stand up to bullies…

The unfortunate thing about life is that we rarely get true “do-overs.”

We might have a chance to offer an apology for something we’ve done. Or, as they say (somewhere), “mend our ways.” But we can’t take back what’s been done. We can only choose what we’ll do in the present moment to make a difference, offer hope, change a life, encourage the dispirited, say “thanks,” open a door, smile, help others laugh…

The point is not what has happened—unchangeable and cast already—but what we choose to make happen in the here and now. Although decent intentions are always good to have, the future is only created by action.

The beginnings and ends of years, days and minutes are somewhat irrelevant—and mostly artificial—markers. It’s what happens within those markers that can change a life.

What if we lived life knowing (really knowing) that there are no do-overs? What would a life lived that way really be?

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