Living life over again is a recurring fictional theme. It’s a grand daydream, taking another run at life and making some changes. But would we truly make those changes? Or if they did, would they be the right things for us?
In Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, P.D. Ouspensky put forward the idea that if we had the chance to change our life, we’d do the same things over and over again. If we would make changes, then we wouldn’t desire to live our lives over again: we’d accept the mistakes of the past and live the rest of our lives without being trapped in fear. I understood that through my own moral filter: if we repent of our sins, it is as if they are undone and we need not re-live the pains of the past.
But what about decisions that weren’t revolving around our sins? What about correcting simple mistakes that could change everything?
Back in 1995, a member of the Dallas ISD administration committed defamation per se against me and some of my fellow teachers. We sued, but we mistakenly sued the district instead of the person. Had we sued the person, we would have had the potential to have a major settlement. By suing the district, we wound up with nothing. Change that one thing, and I change my entire life…
… but I thought about that, and I asked myself, “Would I have forgiven that man?” I have forgiven that administrator in this life. That burden does not trouble my heart. After the lawsuit fell apart, I started seeing him at my neighborhood grocery store. He was now a neighbor, and if I had really forgiven him, I reasoned, I should be able to smile and wave hello at him when I saw him at the store.
So I did. And I realized I had to force myself at first – the forgiveness wasn’t yet complete. It took about a month before I could honestly offer up that smile and wave without hesitation. More important to my soul was the forgiveness, not the money.
And so, in my brief daydream about changing one term on that lawsuit, I went back in time and changed nothing.
What happened in my past, had to happen. It is not for me to wish for ways to change it, but to instead seek how I may be enlightened by it.