Sunday, October 21, 2007

Can I Have a Do-Over?

Circa 1977. I clearly remember the playground game of Skill with a nifty little escape hatch called a do-over. This is not to be confused with a "liner" or a "skimmer". No. A do-over is as the name implies; you just get another chance to get that huge rubber ball over the line and into your opponent's square. The criteria for a do-over were arbitrary and wholly dependent upon your mood, your opponent's mood, the number of children waiting in line to replace you, the amount of conviction displayed when requesting a need for a "do-over" and most importantly, the amount of time left before recess was over. If a mere three minutes of freedom remained before the inescapable shuffle back to the academic salt mines, you were a gonner. No do-over. The game, as far as you were concerned, was over. Even so, you knew the next recess would surely bring a re-match and if you palsied out in pursuit of that enormous, bouncing ball, you just might get your do-over. And there was comfort in knowing that.

As a young adult, I must have firmly believed that the do-over was a viable life strategy. I don't know if I really thought it about that way at the time. But my actions surely conveyed a sensibility that anything could be undone and if need be, made right. I had pluck, you know, resilience. If I only knew at 18 that some actions and words are irrevocable. No do-overs. Just recovery from the fallout. And wounds that heal--but not totally.

I want Ethan and McKenna to know that you just have to try to do it right the first time, especially when it comes to treating people well, not flaking out when others need you, reminding those close to you that they're important and loved. Not taking them for granted. And when it comes to achievement--striking while the proverbial iron is hot. Because life changes, demands emerge and shift. Some things just require that yes, you gotta do it now. Tomorrow is not promised. At twenty, you think you have all the time in the world. Plenty of room for flub-ups and oversights. To be sure, you have some room. But not nearly as much as you think.

If the power of the do-over was truly mine, I would have stayed in the living room with my grandmother that night in January and found something to chat about instead of gluing myself to MTV. I would have broken up with my very first boyfriend in a far kinder and gentler way. I would have listened more to my grandfather's wisdom. I would have put far more focus on academic and career achievement early on in my adulthood. I would have believed in myself more and relied less on others to make me feel worthy. And I would have discovered the power of prayer and the amazing Grace of God far earlier than I did.

Don't get me wrong. A lot turned out really well for me. I am blessed in a hundred different ways. Just now and again, I think about what I could have done better, about actions that can't be undone despite much amends making. I hope that my dear children can learn from me in this regard.

Truth be told, most of the time you just don't get that do-over.


Anonymous said...

I hope that my dear children can learn from me in this regard.

They won't. Gotta figure it out for themselves.

(don't post)

Leigh said...

Sorry...cannot honor requests to "not post" from anonymous sources. Please identify yourself next time.