Sunday, January 31, 2010

If we could do it all again, tell me, would we? Could we?

A cyber-friend of mine, half way round the world from me, asked me on Friday, what I would change about my life if I could do it all again. It’s one of those really hypothetical questions that we all ponder from time to time, but what’s the point in asking or in answering?

Well, in another of those 'ethers' moments, Jared from Spiritual Zen’s post the same day was titled: Today Could Be Your Last Chance; Make it Count! And that’s what I feel about ‘doing it over again’ – thinking about what I would do over again can be one of two things – a highway to regret and recrimination, or, preferably, a roadmap for whatever time I have left. If I regret things I didn’t do, or the person that I wasn’t, that regret is a sign that I probably should try and do those things and be that person from now on. N’est pas?

Of course you can’t be all things, so if the exercise ends up in me having sat in judgment of myself and condemned myself to eternal punishment for how ‘bad’ I was/am, then that’s no use to anyone, least of all me. So there has to be some level of acceptance – not just of myself, but that I can’t get another chance to live my life and that’s fine, ‘cos it’s all about what I do from this moment on.

So, would ya like ta know anyway? Man, such maco-ciousness! (for non-WI ppl, that’s a bastardization of ‘maco’ –kweyol for minding people’s business:)

Ok, well I think there are things that I wish to change based on what in hindsight, looks like it could’ve been done better, so here're some. Not in any real order. With a few 'take aways' added.

  1. School – this one’s for you, students; I would’ve paid more attention in school – especially to languages – being able to speak in the language of another, allows you ‘see them’ (Avatar ref there ppl) so much better. I can still learn languages if I put my mind to it.
    1. Be as global as you can – the world today is so easy to connect in and languages open so many doors – get yourself a door.
  2. I would have studied science – I have an enquiring and creative mind and am eternally fascinated by how much we don’t know about everything. I believe my creative nature would have thrived in science and I still would’ve become an artist but would also have better satisfied my enquiring mind…and been a bit better off $-wise.
    1. All hail the internet – plenty of science around to at least be an armchair scientist.
  3. I should’ve taken every opportunity to stay longer in foreign lands, the world is a fascinating place that most of us never experience. You know, every time I ‘did the right thing’ and came back to work on time, I was told I should’ve, could’ve... Now, getting to any of these places seems way far out of my reach…but travel is not as far away as we all think it is. I haven’t figured out quite how yet, but I know I’ll travel some more.
    1. Take the opportunities to travel when you get them. In most cases, you won’t be fired, your people will understand and you’ll be all the much richer for the experience.
  4. I wouldn’t have run away so many times…chasing greener grass. I think sometimes that I shouldn’t have come back to St. Lucia so soon after college. I think sometimes that it was good that I did…there’s some special connection I have with Lucian arts and crafts and it remains an area that I know I have a lot to give in, so  I will. The one thing I should’ve done right after college though was to go straight into practicing my skills – I took WAY too long to be an artist. But I’m doing that now. But I slowed my growth by giving up too soon too often.
    1. The grass isn’t greener, sure go after adventure, just don’t run away from challenge. And don’t wait to be good at being who you are.
  5. And along those lines – you know people like to say ‘Never Stop Dreaming’ – what cod’s whallop! Dreams are only as useful as you make them, take it from a chronic day-dreamer…the ones you make real, no matter how pale an imitation the reality is, are far, far more worthwhile.
    1. Dream, stop dreaming, do. Rinse and repeat.
  6. Good grief I’m glad I DIDN’T become a Phys Ed instructor in the British Army. Yes, I applied, and thankfully the kind lady advised me not to join the ranks and that I would have to wait 5 years (an eternity back then) to get a commission…some things I wouldn’t change:)
    1. Some youthful dreams should just remain that…maturity sheds a much different light on many things, be grateful for hindsight.
  7. I would read more – lots more. I haven’t read any of ‘the classics’ and that bothers me, I feel like I’m missing out on enjoying much of the deeper quality of life here too – like not traveling and speaking languages. I haven’t managed to get this one worked in…but I will, maybe ½ an hour a day…
    1. Reading good literature is like experiencing art – it brings out depths in us we otherwise would not know exist, so if you haven’t or don’t read and / or look at art, do.
  8. OK, this is a big one. I wouldn’t care so much about what people think of me or whether they like me. This dogged my life for so long! I’ve grown out of it  and into myself, but I think, despite a suspicion that I wouldn’t be the ‘interesting’ person I am now if I hadn’t lived through those self-doubts, I think being confident in yourself is generally a good thing. Lacking it certainly has held me back in being an artist in public.
    1. Um, no brainer; stop being your own worst critic.
  9. I’d learn to say ‘NO’ much earlier in life. No, I’m not going to elaborate…
  10. Another huge one; I would never again allow myself to drop friendships. Life can get in the way in all sorts of ways – maybe you’re having too good a time, maybe you’re having too bad a time, but whatever it is, in my experience, the period where I became a stranger to my friends is one it has been easy to look back on wholeheartedly and know if nothing else, I could not allow to continue.
    1. True friends may get hurt by things you do or don’t do now and then, but the biggest void is created when you drop off the radar – for both parties. Don’t do it, and if you have, like I have, get back in touch.
  11. And the biggest – I was brought up to say Thank You and Please, but I would have learnt to be truly grateful for what I had much earlier in life. True gratitude in my eyes is when you enjoy and make good use of what you have – skills, opportunities, friendship, alone time, hard times…each and every one has much to give, but I took a long, long time to really understand what being grateful really meant.
    1. Tell people what they mean to you
    2. Stop crying over what you don’t have, embrace the need to overcome shortcomings and conquer
    3. Don’t procrastinate – this is the worst insult to life’s gifts that you can dish out. And life will punish you if you procrastinate, I know this from experience.

So, there you have it folks, by no means an exhaustive list but I don’t want to bore you to sleep! 

But you know what? For everything I’ve done ‘wrong’ I have still been on the journey that has brought me here to who I am now. 

And I like me. Warts ‘n all. Shit, I ain’t perfect, but my Mummy always told me that getting all As in attitude, application, conduct probably means you’re not a very interesting person. Ok, she was a very interesting person for true, and those of you who knew her, know she didn’t get all As. I’m sure there are exceptions to her rule but for me, I live happily with my ‘imperfections’. Life is mine for the taking still.

So what do you see still awaiting you in the future that you haven’t yet gotten round to doing? C'mon, tell, I'm as maco-cious as the next person!

Similar post: Options & Opportunity