Do-Overs: How to Get a Second Chance
How to Get a Do-Over
Everyone, at times, wishes they could have a do-over in life There are three ways to get a do-over--a magical undo button, the fantasy of time travel, or a mulligan. Only the mulligan is actually possible. In golf, a mulligan is a second chance to play the ball. In life, a mulligan is the opportunity to make a different choice. We can't un-do or re-do what's done, but we can get a second chance to make a different choice, to choose a different path, to explore a different possibility.
If You Could Go Back in Time...
If only life came with an undo button.
Don’t you just love the undo button on your computer?
Suppose I inadvertently deleted the entire article I’ve been working on for the past four hours. No problem. I just click “undo.”
If only life had an undo button.
An Undo Button for Life?
Everyone wants a do-over.
We wish we could do some of the things that we didn’t do and undo some of the things we did do. When we flub something, we wish we had a chance to do it over. Even when we do something well, we wish we could have a chance to do it better.
- Observe children at play, and sooner or later you will hear. “I want a do-over. I wasn’t ready.”
- We have do-overs in sports. In baseball, “It’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.” The do-overs are built right into the rules. You get three chances to hit the ball.
- Movies deal with this theme. In the movie, Groundhog Day, a man must relive a day over and over until he gets it right.
- Science fiction often takes up this theme of time travel. If only we could go back in time and do it differently.
How often do we think about “the road not taken” and wonder how our life would have been different if we could go back and make a different choice?
How often do we think: “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda”?
Do you ever wish you could go back in time?
There is a science fiction book about this: Replay by Ken Grimwood. It is about a man who has a heart attack at age 43, but wakes up to find himself back in time, back to his college days. He’s gone back in time to 25 years earlier, and he is back in his 18-year old body.
If you had the opportunity to do this, would you take it?
At first is sounds great—a chance to start over. But if you think about it a little, it might actually be awful. Here’s why:
1. Would you like a life with no surprises?
You would know the future. Just think of all the Super Bowls it would ruin for you—knowing who was going to win every time. (On the other hand, you would know what team to bet on.)
In the movie Groundhog Day, the man who is forced to live the same day over and over finds his life so monotonous, that at a certain point, he tries to kill himself. He is unsuccessful, of course-- he simply wakes up again the next morning because he is destined to live this one day over and over until he learns to become a better human being.
2. Do you want to be an “old head” in a young body?
I say “old-head” because you would have all the experiences of a 43-year old, but you would be in your 18-year old body. It’s the “if-I knew-then-what-I-know-now” dream come true.
Would you want to be friends with 18-year olds? You would probably find young people silly, shallow, and ignorant and they would probably feel like you were a know-it-all and an “old fuddy-duddy”.
What if you tried to be friends who were the age of your “old head”, the age you were before you were transported back in time and back into your 18-year old body?
You’d be more compatible with them on a mental level, but they wouldn’t be very compatible as friends. They wouldn’t be able to keep up with you physically, and you wouldn’t have very much in common. You’d be in college or just beginning a career, and they would be planning for retirement and visiting their grandchildren.
Did you ever see a movie that you first saw 20 or 30 years ago? You loved that movie and now you see it again and it is boring. You wonder why you ever liked it. It is because 30 years of experience have intervened, and you can’t see the movie in the same way. It might be like that if you could replay the movie of your life.
Looking Young; Thinking Old
3. Do you want to create or edit?
If you got a do-over on your life-- instead of creating, you’d be proofreading. All the fun is in the creation of something; if you got a do-over, you’d just be editing. And where’s the fun in that?
4. Do you want to give up modern conveniences?
If you went back in time, you’d have to live without a lot of the things we have all come to depend upon, even take for granted. No computers, no internet, no smart phones, no VCR’s, no video games, no Velcro, no Spanx, etc.
Think of all the things big and small, you would have to learn to live without.
Life is Full of Choices
5. Would different choices be better choices?
We always think that different choices would be better choices. But is this really the case? If you had made different choices would it really have made that big a difference in your happiness or success?
Maybe you would like a do-over for a mistake you made. If you had done something differently, it might have been an even bigger mistake. Maybe if you had zigged right instead of zagging left, you would have zigged right into the path of an oncoming bus.
Different choices could have been worse choices.
In the book “Replay”, the protagonist lives his whole life again, and then has a heart attack again, and goes back in time again to an even younger age. This happens over and over. He gets to make different choices each time.
After the first few times, he pretty much just does everything the way he did it the first time. He obviously has come to the conclusion that his life could be different, but different is not necessarily better. He chooses his original life because it is HIS life, and that life is as good as any other.
Life Can Be Like a Spiral
Second chances are the mulligans in the game of life.
In golf, a player can get a “mulligan”—a chance to replay the ball. In the games of life, we can get second chances.
When my son was 17, he came to me and said, “Mom, I’ve made so many mistakes.” I thought, “Come talk to me when you are 50.”
What I actually said was “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future. You can have a second chance, a third chance, as many chances as you need.”
Judging by the divorce rate, a lot of people regret their decision to marry the person they married. If you are in a situation like that, then you either need to work on making your marriage better or get a divorce. Either way you have a second chance at happiness. And either way, you have the chance to learn from your mistake and make a better life in the future.
People often regret their career choices. If that is the case, then why not find the work you love? Let that regret be the stimulus that pushes you to make the change you need to make.
It doesn’t matter how old you are. Retired people are starting new careers in a different field all the time. They get a job, start a business, turn their hobby into a source of income, or volunteer. Retirement is no longer about sitting in a rocking chair--it is about starting over and doing the things they never had the time or money or smarts to do when they were younger.
Grandma Moses started painting in her 70’s. Harland Sanders started franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65. And, I fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a writer in my 60’s. I also wanted to be an actress when I was a little girl, and now I do public speaking and work as a background actor (aka, an extra).
You can find a way to match your dream to your talents and go for it. You can get that second chance!
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.— John W. Garner
This is the best of all possible lives.
John W. Garner, the secretary of Health Education and Welfare under President Johnson, said, “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” We can’t erase our past, but we can use our experiences, both good and bad, to help us perfect the “art of living”.
If some fairy godmother or some genie-in-a-lamp came and offered us a do-over, maybe we should say, “Thanks, but no thanks”.
Instead of thinking about do-overs, we should be paraphrasing Voltaire’s Candide: “All is for the best in the best of all my possible lives.”
Take the poll just for fun.
Has life given you second chances?
Groundhog Day: Watch the trailer
© 2015 Catherine Giordano