Startled by his question, I wasn’t immediately sure how to answer. “You can’t,” I finally said. “You can never go back. Time only moves forward.”
How often have you heard someone say, “If I could be sixteen again,” or “If I could re-live my life again knowing then what I know now,” or “If I could just change some of the choices I’ve made in my life?”
Little children can’t wait until they are teenagers. Young teens want to be old enough to drive, then be eighteen, followed by twenty-one. The “hurry up” process usually stalls when a person reaches about thirty, wanting time to slow while fighting the aging process, until they can feel retirement close at hand.
The show “Happy Days” was a hit many years ago because those who remembered, considered those days “happier days” than the 70’s or 80’s and even now as we watch the re-runs on TV. “Time” looking back, always seems simpler. Yet even the 1950’s had problems. It was not an ideal time, despite how we remember it! Memory has a way of “making fuzzy” those things which were unpleasant.
What makes us unhappy with where we are in our lives? Why do we wish for another time period than which we are in? We dream of what it might be like to be older or younger rather than content with our current age. Surely when we do this, we miss the beauty of the time in which we find ourselves.
Garth Brooks sang a song called “The Dance” that considers this dilemma. He says (paraphrased) “he’s glad he didn’t know how it all would end because if he’d known, he might have changed the plans. If he’d changed the plans, he’d have missed the dance.” The dance is life itself; the adventures, the trials, the tears, joys, love, everything life has to offer; good or bad. There are things in life over which we have no control. These events help to mold us into who we are and what we believe.
Do we make bad choices? Probably everyone, if they were honest would answer, "yes." But from these mistakes, we learn, enabling us to help others. The trials in our life, tempers our character and creates in us the ability to feel compassion and give comfort to those who need it. Do we enjoy trials? Most would answer with a resounding, “No!” Not many people enjoy pain or heartache. Yet when the grief has passed, we often can see how we’ve grown; or growth is witnessed by another, even if we can not.
When someone wistfully says, “If I were twenty years younger…,” are they really serious? If given the opportunity, would they really trade the life they lived for a chance to do it again and would they want to do it with another?
Another song, from many years ago, called “I’d Choose You Again” hopefully is the way you feel about the person you chose to spend your life with. This song simply told the love story of a woman who would choose her same mate again if she had the chance; even though after all that time she knew him better, faults and all. Contentment comes with acceptance of the way things are. Contentment brings happiness. Happiness brings hope for a life that is filled with love and joy.
Would you go back to your childhood, to your teen years, your twenties? Do you wish for time to pass to the time of retirement? We’re probably all guilty of this to some degree. But if we were honest, aside from the honest desire of thinking we might have made better choices from time to time, the life we are living, in our current time period, has the potential to be the most delightful time of our life. I challenge you to make it so.