Our family sat down to watch the recent Veggie-Tales cartoon “It’s a Meaningful Life.” In it there was an interesting little quote:

“For every regrettable there’s a hypothetical.”

Wow. It brought back memories of a singular event the likes of which I’ve not really been faced with again. This movie gave an illustration of what could have been if the main character hadn’t had fate get in his way. In this story, the choice wasn’t so much his, but bound to circumstances beyond his control. The life he could have had if it hadn’t been for the unforeseen accident was not as desirable in the end. But again, the thing that changed the course for him was out of his control. The thing that changed mine? Well, let’s say the choice was fully within my control.

A decision I made at that moment, led me down a different path. I have to look at my life as it is now and be content. I -am- content. Sure, I strive for more, to do more, to keep my family fed, housed, clothed, with some change to spare for fun times. In a related thought, it occurs to me I try to keep myself as busy as possible in order to forget. Had I made that -other- choice, some 23 years ago, where would I be today?

Would I be in the same position I am now? Would I have this wonderful house we built? Would I be married to a woman who cares for me so much? Would I have the same job? Would I be facing the challenges I find with Sam and his conditions?

I don’t know. I just -don’t- know, and I never will. Why? Because we can’t construct an alternate future. The reality of what could have been will never be known, it can’t be. There is no such thing as time travel, unless you count the constant forward movement. There is no going back. Seems regrettable.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened. I often dream of what it would have been like. Even today there is constant mystery surrounding the big “what if.” I sometimes think this pain in my heart wouldn’t be there, but then I try to remind myself that it’s that pain that helps define who I am. I try to think how different it might be, but then I tell myself it could have been far worse; things could have unfolded much differently than what I daydream. I could in all fairness be less than who I am today.

Still the pain is there and though I try to tell myself I have no regrets, I lie. There is one. It’s only one and it shall haunt me the rest of my life. I’ve written of it before but it’s doubtful you’ll find it. I sometimes go months without it haunting me, and perhaps it’s not fair to say it haunts me anymore. I’ve faced it and overcome it, but the regret still hides deep in my heart and rears it’s head every once in a while.

It’s but a dream now, a shadow cast upon the dim recesses of my mind. Barely there, persistent and nearly transparent. And it’s things like this quote from the movie tonight that cause it to alight in my thoughts. The melancholy grows sweet again, I taste it and allow it to ferment the memories. Once more I shall drink of it’s reminder of things I could have done had I performed the other thought of two, yet without knowing where it would lead or how it would have left me, today.

With that drink, a spark occurs that tells me it’s the mystery of it all that burns in my blood and shall never be quenched. For it is in the mystery we are all drawn, to know what ends shall come: who did it, why, when and where. But this mystery is one without end, a book that was never written, an ending that will never be known. All because, of a different, choice.

Asa Jay

2 Responses to “The Past’s Present Future”
  1. capie4 says:

    Hi Asa,

    I have envied you all your (young) adult life. Here are some regrets you missed:

    Being born without ADHD–failed
    Being born without a poor attention to detail–failed
    Growing up without personality disorders–failed
    Passing every grade from 1st – 7th–failed
    Earning 3rd grade in three years–failed
    Earning the common sense by 13 to avoid being converted to a pervert–failed
    Earning the Dedalian Award–failed
    Earning a HS diploma by 13 years–failed
    Being born with the level of common sense, skills, personality, talent and family background you have–failed
    Earning the common sense & having the talent & skill to take a 71 mustang, strip it, acid bath it, transfer parts…
    … from the light blue mustang to it *in two weekends AT 17 years old*–failed
    Having a great, hard, (bomber-pilot) Father who would bust my ass–failed
    Earning SRA on schedule–failed
    Earning high marks on APR’s–failed
    Earning a Military retirement–failed
    Being accepted by peers–failed
    Being accepted by employees–failed
    Being accepted by one’s own wife–failed
    Having your peers have a retirement party for you–failed
    Avoiding being a felon–failed
    Finding a Metier-and being allowed to continue it–failed
    Performing a Military career–failed
    Performing a CDL career–failed
    Performing a HazWoper career–failed
    Performing a Pest Control career–failed
    Having old & new friends–failed
    Owning a home–failed
    Avoid bankruptcy–failed
    Supporting a family–failed
    Avoid struggling all life-long to overcome the above personal detriments–failing, but trying
    Approaching age 50 and having friends (even from HS) keep in touch–failed.

    Having just ONE person find something productive enough to call you \a worthwhile human-being\ or \important\ or having just one person state: \I have envied you all your (young) adult life\–failed.

    As usual, your message is well thought out and delivered. This seems like you are making an entry into a diary regarding an epiphany, so I may be stretching by suggesting: there is just one aspect missing, Solution.
    What has been your solution to this situation so that others may comphrehend? I see it. But I have studied personality disorders and their managements for ten years now and can pick out your coping skills. But they are not spelled out for others to learn from your experiences. You share your thoughts, but not the reason for your pain, or your coping skills, style, approach, or management.

    You know the following already, because you have been gifted with being both a thinker *and* a doer, not just one or the other:
    “For every regrettable there’s a hypothetical.” comes across to me as what a great assistant fire-chief (who couldn’t stand my guts, but had the wisdom to teach-against-his-will) said to me: \We could ‘what-if?’ all day…but that would not teach us a thing.\ He was referring to the ‘what-if?’ questions during scenarios of house fires.
    That statement was made in the mid-80’s and kicked me between the eyes so much so, that even in my undiagnosed, unaware, naive state, I carried his words to this day. Yes, Asa, you could \what-if?\ all day, and by bedtime, you would have learned nothing. Solutions are not in the question, but in the answer(s).

    Share with your audience.

    I wish you & your family well.


  2. Asa Jay says:

    Great to hear from you.
    Solution? There really isn’t a solution, I’ll live with these thoughts the rest of my life. How to deal with it? Mostly just ignore it, put it away and instead of dwelling on it, focus on the here, the now, the today. It’s a matter of counting the blessing you have now and in a real sense thanking God for the troubles and trials of the past that have helped forge the person I am today. I’m nowhere near perfect, I have my faults. I try however to be the best person I can, day to day.

    Memories are always there and can be called up on cue or triggered by other things. Yesterday I wanted to find a reference for some equipment I used to work on in the Air National Guard. Suddenly I was taken down memory lane again, all the great times I had working in that job. Much of it helped define who I am today.

    The solution? Don’t let it become a “regret.” I opine how this one thing may be the only thing I regret, but I also opine how I shouldn’t because no one knows how it may have turned out. So the solution is to not think of it as a regret but to look back at it as a growing experience, to learn from it, to “think” about how it influenced me and could help me in the future.

    I pray things are going well with you.
    Asa Jay

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