There’s no point thinking, “What if?” What if I had been nicer to that person? What if I had done something differently? What if I wasn’t such an idiot? What if I had said something else?
All of these things have been written. They were all encoded into our programming. They were all parts of the test that is life itself. This is our metaverse, far more convincing than anything dreamed up by a tech nerd.
For sure, I have cringed at many of the decisions I made in the past, berating myself for years. But today? No, I have long accepted that it was necessary for me to make an utter fool of myself way back when to pave the way for today. It is not that I recommend public humiliation; it’s just that with hindsight, I see where it carried me.
Certainly I have learned valuable lessons that I can share with my children. Never trust a friend to speak on your behalf, for example. Be your own person. Be patient. Lower your gaze. Stand up and be counted. Be nice to everyone you meet. Be fair and kind. Shun all prejudice.
But maybe we need to be more generous to our youthful selves: making mistakes and humongous cockups was expected; it comes with the territory. Our younger selves are there to be laughed at by the people we are today, no matter how much we still cringe at the thought of all we did. If only the adolescent versions of ourselves could hear us now.
Years have passed us by. Times have changed. I have lost touch with all I knew in childhood. I’m in touch with none I knew at school. I have only kept in touch with my favourite friends from university, although they are mostly scattered worldwide.
The past is a room we can no longer enter. That door has closed. It’s a bonus that few remember us, I suppose, those ridiculous moments long forgotten. Perhaps only the face in the mirror remembers those horrors now.
“What if?” profits us not at all. All that happened had to happen. It’s what made us. Those chapters are closed. All that is in our power is how we pen the next chapter. “What now?” we might write on the blank page before us. What will we do this time?