Monday, 9 March 2009

A life makeover

A few days ago, Relax Max asked, in his own inimitable way, "if anybody out there was awarded a "do over", at what point in your life would you start it?" I say inimitable because the question came in the comments after a somewhat mysterious post. I still don't understand it.

I never did answer the question because I kept changing my mind.

At first I thought I might go back to the moment of conception and delay it for a good few years. That way would lie three advantages: I wouldn't have to be the sensible older sister, I could have a complete makeover, and best of all, I'd be a lot younger. But no, that would make me a completely different person.

After that things went well enough I suppose, until it came to the first big exam stage, O-Levels at 16. How I wish I could go back to that age and be less uptight about the whole thing. It seemed so much like a matter of life or death in those days, that my whole life depended on it. I had no idea how insignificant it would seem a few years later.

Then I got to university in Liverpool. Would I have changed that? No, Liverpool was a wonderful place to be a student in the 60s, even if I didn't take full advantage of all that was going on. It was an exciting time, when students all around the world were protesting about one thing or another. French students were causing mayhem in Paris, and in Liverpool we were sitting-in. I can't remember why. And of course, Beatle mania was still pretty well in full flow. I wouldn't want to change all that, but I could have loosened up and been less serious, taken more advantage of what was happening - we had plenty of "happenings" too. If I'd been different, I might have met different people, done different and more exciting things.

Later on, when we started the constant house moving, I might have preferred to have cut one or two places out, but then I wouldn't have had those experiences. Life's rich pattern would have lost some of its depth.

So when might I start my makeover? I can't think of any one time when I'd really want to change everything that has come since. Apart from little local difficulties such as not having a job, I really wouldn't want not to be where I am at the moment. You are the sum of your parts after all, and without the specific experiences I've had I wouldn't be the person I am. I have a wonderful family and some very special friends, many of whom I've met on line. I really am content where I am at the moment, though I grant you that at times people close to me may be surprised at that statement.

So, totally hijacking Max's post, I'd be interested in hearing where any of you would start a makeover, or if you don't want one, where would you at least think about it?


  1. Even though it was my own post, you know... I couldn't really think of a particular time, even the bad times, that I would really want to change or "rewrite." Any more than you could think of a particular time. I think one has to be unhappy with how one's life turned out in order to want to make a drastic change, to go back in time and REALLY do it over. Perhaps if I were in prison I would want to go back and undo whatever I had done, but I'm NOT in prison. Or if I had had a terrible family tragedy, or a terrible catastrophic loss. But I didn't, thank goodness.

    And so, I began wondering if there were any period of my life I would want to live over and over because it was so very exciting and happy. Well. That's different, isn't it? Yes, I have a time like that. Not going to share it here although you probably know it, having listened to me so many times and labored through so many of my writings. For you, I would guess the Liverpool years. And also a certain time when you lived in a home you really enjoyed, and the boys were young. Just guessing, of course. Only you know the real answer.

    I am so glad you took the time to think about this. I know I feel a lot better now than when I made that confusing post.

    And I hope some of your readers here will give it some thought and, if they don't feel comfortable answering your post question directly, at least talk a little bit about a GOOD time in their lives. A time that even now brings a smile to their face, a time where, if they were forced to be stuck in time forever, that particular time wouldn't be a bad place to be stuck. Take care.

  2. A for me it would need to start with my wasted youth (schooling).

    But that said I have been extremely lucky with life, always had a job, visited some great places and met some super people.

    Who knows what I would miss if I could change things.

  3. Having the confidence of a forty year old as a twenty year old would have improved my life considerably, though I can't wish it changed for two obvious reasons.

  4. I wouldn't want to go back and change anything, but I would like to go back and tell myself how to handle certain things better. Those experiences made me who I am today,so I don't want to lose them. But I would liked to have handled them better at the time.

  5. I'm with Solomon here, I would love to be able to deal with the stresses of life and situations that arose in a much better way than I have done. Otherwise no, I don't think I would change anything not even recent events.

  6. @Max, reliving a special part of your life? Not forever like Groundhog Day? There are many instances where I'd like to dip in and out to re-experience for a while. I remember the first days of my 2nd year in Liverpool, footloose and fancy free, listening to "San Francisco" being played all over the place. A great feeling at the time, but how long would it last? The house in the country with two small boys, yes, that's undoubtedly another candidate.

    Those examples are quite a way in the past, but there are other times, much more recent, that I'd like to relive as well. For example, last summer seemed particularly idyllic for some reason.

    So, please sir, could I relive various bits and pieces from time to time, and not be having to choose any one for ever? That's what memories are for, is it not? :)

  7. @Mike, a wasted youth, yes I think many of us would say that. It's so very easy to look back and wish we'd done things differently, but as you say, who knows what you would have missed if you hadn't followed the path you took.

  8. @j, that is another aspect, yes. I would love to be able to go back with an older head on my shoulders - confidence was something I needed too. I imagine the two reasons would be your children. I wouldn't change mine for the world, in spite of the (truly only occasional) times I may have complained.

  9. @Solomon, that might be ideal I think, to be able to handle things better, and yet retain the experience. As you say, the way we are now is the result of our past experiences.

  10. @Sage, that's a very good point. We do have bad times, some worse than others, but to change those we would often have to do away with associated good times.

  11. I would love to continue my education to University. I came from a poor family. I have two younger brothers, so I had to give up school for them. We didn't know there was scholarships and help. Now I know better and are helping poor students get an education.

    I have been blessed, there are times I could have done better and handled situations much better but I love my life now. :)

  12. such thought provoking question.. but like solomon, i wouldnt change anything but would like to have a chance to go back and make things better.. i could have not kept my silence on how my mom could help my father earning money for the family.. i could have not hesitated telling my parents to focus on the family's needs by saving. hah.. it's a long story but i would have like it to be better not necessarily changing or deleting..

  13. What a great post - I am so glad that you wrote about this. I wouldn't do things any differently with the exception of getting my Ph.D - I wish I had finished it (I am what 'they' call an ABD (All But Dissertation) with 1/2 a thesis waiting to be resolved/finished,somehow).

    As far as a point in life I'd like to revisit, that would be my last year in college. I had a room that was ideal, terrific classes and the best friends ever. Not to say it was all perfect, but we'll leave that for my old diaries! :)

  14. I don't think I would start over. I mean I've had my ups and downs and there are of course something I really regret, but as you said: 'You are the sum of your parts after all'. I think one grow through difficulties too and nothing compares to self made experiences.

  15. Hi a. --

    It's really sad but I really can point to a year when my life path changed -- and not necessarily in a way that I had wanted, never mind expected. So if I could start over, I'd go back to the year before it.

    Though, if truth be told, I could see the writing on the wall a couple of years or so before disaster struck and my life was irrevocably changed. So maybe I'd go so far as to start all over from my senior year at university... a time when, and like never since, I truly felt that the world was my oyster... :S

    Except that if that happened, I might not have re-discovered Hong Kong cinema, made a lot of friends through our shared movie passion, had this strong yearning to move to Hong Kong and enjoy the life that I currently do now. So... I guess that even out of the deepest, darkest days of my life, I still did manage to not only claw my way out but go on to find good -- even if very different from that which I'd have gone for previously -- things and people.

  16. @ECL, there's always the possibility of a university education now. Have you ever thought of that?

    @bing, it would be wonderful if we could go back and set some things right that need it.

    @Lidian, presumably you still could finish your thesis, or have you run into a time limit? The revisiting thing, I'm beginning to wonder if we'd find things quite the same as we remember. On the other hand, perhaps the idea is to experience them precisely as we first did.

    @Renny, I agree with you about growing with difficulties - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

    @YTSL, I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad year, but I gather it was quite a while ago now. I think you've put your finger on it very well, the path your life has taken since is one that has given you a whole new perspective and direction. That presumably would be unlikely to be the case if you could re-work that bad time.

  17. This is impressive. For me, if I was awarded a do-over, I would have been another person so my 32 years on this planet (as of writing) is simply me.

  18. I've just come across this, and thought your love of bridges might find an outlet here!

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