(random thoughts from a guy who has nothing better to do)
I’m so-o-o tired of those treacly reminiscences by people telling me what they would do if they had their lives to live over again. “I’d love more, I’d see more sunsets, I’d send more birthday cards, I’d smile more, yada, yada, yada.”
As far as I’m concerned, if you’ve seen one sunset, you’ve seen them all. And nobody sends birthday cards any more do they?
So here’s my list of “do-overs.”
I’d argue more – and harder. I never learned much when I agreed with the other person. I enjoy arguing and in hindsight it seems to me, I learned the most when I argued with my friends and people I respect. I’ve even learned a little from people I don’t respect so much. I’ve learned from people who are smarter than I am and people who aren’t. Of course, it is important to remember that even while I am arguing that I keep an open mind. It is just very slightly possible that an opinion opposite to mine may have some slight value. It may even be “righter” than my opinion. So I’ll argue like hell – and then take some time afterwards to think it over and give some serious thought to the other person’s point of view. I’ll take a lot of time if I have to. I may learn something. I may even change my mind.
When my son was about seven years old, he refused to taste pizza because- in his words, “I don’t like it.” – even though he had never tasted it. (Most parents will identify with this experience.) Finally, when he was about 13, he finally took a bite and surprise, surprise, he loved it. For many years afterward, he often voiced his regret saying, “I could have been eating pizza for the past six years!”
As for me, I’d taste snails sooner. I’d eat mussels sooner. I’d learn to ski sooner; not wait until I was almost 54. I will always regret all the years I missed out trying those things. In the case of skiing, it was all too soon that I got too old to do it any more. I’d go to more symphonies and ballets. I’d visit more museums. I’d read more books. I’d drink more wine. I’d get drunk a few more times. I’d visit Yellowstone National Park. I’d raft down the Colorado River – in my underwear. I’d learn to scuba dive.
I’d ask more questions and I’d assume less. Assuming things cost me a lot of pain and money over the years. I’d be more cynical. I’d be more cautious. I’d be less trusting. Being naive made me a nice guy but it cost me too much in money, disappointments and friendships.
I’d insult more people. I’d do that instead of meekly accepting the insults and put-downs of other people while trying to be the nice guy. To hell with being the nice guy. Who wants to be the nice guy with crap all over him? I’d stand up for myself more. I’d be ready to give back whatever I received. Instead of walking away feeling crapped on, I’d be ready to dish it back when necessary. And then I’d be the one who felt better when I walked away.
I’d use a lot more dirty words. Words like:
Lake Titicaca, asinine, fricative, Balzac, titillate, asymptote, cockamamie, prickle, uphold, shiitake, cocky and manhole-cover.
I’d try new things and I’d make more mistakes. I have rarely learned anything when things went exactly as I expected them to. You need to make mistakes to find out better ways to do things. I drove the same way to work for eleven years. Then one day I discovered a short cut when I took a wrong turn one morning. I did things the same way over and over again until one day – by mistake – I did it a different way and found out that it was easier and faster. Whenever I took over the management of a new company during my career, I was always on the lookout for people who would answer my question of, “Why are you doing it that way?” by saying, “We’ve always done it this way.” To me that was a sure sign that there might be a newer, better way. And there usually was.
I’d apologize more. I’d take my own inventory more often. I’d admit it when I was wrong. I’d have the courage to do that. I’d feel better afterwards.
Okay, okay, maybe I’d watch a few more sunsets.