I was thinking of a story idea about a guy who gets a chance to live his life over, maintaining all the knowledge he accumulated during his first life. I put myself in the protagonist’s shoes to see how I felt about it myself. I think a lot of times people find this an attractive idea. I have myself at times. But when you really start to analyze it, as you would need to do if you were going to do a story about it, things don’t seem quite so simple. Every decision we make has multiple and complicated repercussions. There’s no way to change one thing without changing multiple others and one would risk losing the good things in order to get rid of the bad.
I think, for example, of what I might do differently knowing the exact day my father would die and what I might have been able to do to prevent it. But I can’t even imagine the repercussions in my future had it not happened. I imagine relationships that I spent a lot of time and effort on that went nowhere, and what time and pain I might have saved myself by ending them earlier. But how would my memories and my personality be different if I had done so. Would I be a better man now? Or a worse one?
What about the motorcycle accidents I had! Changing my timing by a bare moment in any of those cases would have saved me a lot of pain. It would have saved me some of the permanent stuff I’m living with. Or would it? Had I not had any of those accidents, perhaps I would have had another that was far worse.
I think about my writing, about what might have happened had I produced the stuff I’ve produced earlier in my life, or what might be if I had decided to pursue a career in writing rather than making the choice that I did, which was to find a good career and job and write on the side. Would I be further along as a writer now? Would I have sold more? Would I be making a living at it? The thing is, I almost certainly wouldn’t be making as good a living as I have with the choice I did make. Of course, there is no telling. I might have hit the market at just the right time and broken out. Or maybe there wasn’t a market for my work until I found it in later years.
I often wish for a reset button on life. Like you get with video games. You die in a video game and you just reload from the last save. But we don’t have those. And even if we did, would we reload after every “wrong” decision without knowing that, in fact, it was a right decision for what greater things came later.
Ultimately, I know two things. My first marriage didn’t work our in the end but I have a wonderful son from it. I could not and would not give him up. Two, it was things going wrong in my life that led me to finding Lana. And I could not and would not give her up either.
Guess it’s a good thing we don’t get to live our life over. I wouldn’t want the fear of some pain to make me miss out on what I have now.