Riker's Mailbox

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


My man, Andrey Hardy 3000, had a great little idea recently. He 's making an interactive group-participation entry over at his blog. He asks a question, and readers are encouraged to post their answers.

I so enjoyed this idea, and so enjoyed answering his first question (and so don't feel like expending the energy to write something different), that I decided to reproduce it here.

What follows is his entry:

Group Participation

This is the first of what will be a series of questions designed for reader feedback. I have anonymous posting enabled, so even the lazy people who wouldn't want to register don't have an excuse. ;-)

If you had it [it being some defining moment in your life] to do over again, would you? If so, what would you change?

Another thought and subsequent question: Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?

And my response: Hmm. My firm belief that everything happens for a reason (though it's completely impossible to present evidence to prove this claim) Nicely answers your second question and sets the scope for my answer to your first:

I believe that each experience we have in life, good or bad, imparts a subtle influence onto our persona. Thus, we need both the good and bad experiences to define who we are today based on who we've been and what we've been through; it is largely due to these environmental extremes that weather away the parts of us that they do, that we became ourselves.

My point is as follows: Given the opportunity to change a pivotal moment in my past, I and everyone else presented with this chance, will obviously wish to change something that had a negative outcome. Nobody is going to go back and remove a good thing from their past. And so, what would I have condemned myself to, if I were to remove a bad thing which may have taught me how to cope with bad things? Maybe the next time in my life I encounter something bad, I won't have the skillset to overcome it as easily. Result? The more recent experience weighs in as a more substantial negative than it would have had I not changed the incident in my past. Then maybe THAT negative experience would impart on me the influence that should have come from the first one I removed. And as such, what did I accomplish? Nothing more than delay the learning of a life lesson. And in the end, it would be no different to me where I stand today.

I think it's a self-regulating process. The bad things are like a sandstorm that blasts away at your weaknesses, which encapsulate you. If a particular weakness is not demolished by the sandstorm early in life, then it will protrude from you, which makes it more likely to be blasted off during the next sandstorm. No matter which storm removed it first, though, after you've weathered both storms you can be sure that you will have the same fewer weaknesses.

Despite all this, I must admit that I have a terrible desire to go back and tweak little things that I'm sure wouldn't have a macroscopic affect on the outcome of my life. Namely, I wish I could sneak back in time and whisper into my ear the perfect retort when someone said something mean or rude to me. I was never quick enough to think of snappy comebacks as a child in school. And having had the rest of my life to think about it, I've finally come up with some real zingers. I don't want to go ahead and make the change that would have given me more balls to do this on my own in grade school and highschool, because I don't think I was ready to have those balls yet. But wouldn't it be harmless to nudge younger me in the right direction, so I could have one or two more moral victories than I actually had?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:21 AM

    ummm... I haven't seen it yet, but isn't your point proven in the movie "The Butterfly Effect"? It is also a pretty obvious conclusion as well. You should take what you have done and learn from it. Something bad that has happened can end up creating a good thing in the future. Sometimes hard lessons learned though.