In case you haven’t noticed, we can’t live in the past.
I know, weird.
I tried to find a loophole in the whole space-time continuum thing by reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time… a thought provoking read, but there was a lack of instructions on how to construct a flux capacitor.
The next best option was to elicit the help of Doc Brown, so I referenced my DVD box set of Back to the Future I, II and III (what a deal for only $10!). No such luck.
It turns out that if you drive your car down the highway in an attempt to reach 88 mph without a flux capacitor, the only place you travel is to the court house at a later date to pay your speeding ticket.
Just Bash that Damn Square Peg into the Round Hole
I’ve been trying so hard to understand why I struggle with the notion that the past cannot be relived. I’ve heard that history repeats itself, but that’s more of a natural process. When you force it, nothing seems to end up as amazing as it was the first time around.
You’re just left with a mangled piece of wood, a broken hammer, and an unfulfilling sense of bewilderment… piece of shit round hole.
When All Else Fails, Blame Science
Why can scientists create a harmonious balance of 23 flavors in a can of Dr. Pepper yet they have no idea how to transcend space and time? It’s a legitimate question.
Designers can create an artificially intelligent being inside your iPhone 4S (Siri) that can send messages, schedule meetings, answer questions and tell you where to find the best burger in town (but God help you if you ask Siri a knock-knock joke).
As amazing and über cool as it is, this artificial intelligence is still bound by the intelligence of man; something we have struggled to comprehend since the beginning of our existence.
But humans have an even more amazing ability to do what I like to call think: the creation of original thoughts and ideas.
Unfortunately Amazing Abilities Don’t Come With Instructions
I recently returned from an extraordinary trip to San Diego. I used to live there.
It’s interesting, the thoughts that go through your head when you visit an area you once lived. Each trip tends to conjure up an immeasurable amount of memories, one seamlessly leading into the next like a biographical film strip of your time spent at this location.
It’s not only events, but people too.
I remember the touch, the smell, and the feel of an early morning surf session as the sun rose from the East to slowly illuminate the murky ocean water. I would always struggle to get on my wet suit as I fought to shake off the grogginess of a 5am wake up call. The first rush of frigid water down the back of my wetsuit was the perfect remedy. I’ll never forget those mornings, or the friends who shared them with me.
I remember how it felt to hold a girl in a loving embrace while we watched the sun burn a fiery orange hole in the ocean as it slowly fell below that vast body of glistening water. I leaned in from behind to give her ear a soft kiss. Slightly ticklish, she quickly flinched and turned her head in my direction with a beautiful smirk and a soft laugh. I smiled, then moved in for a real kiss with no delay. You don’t want to pass up an opportunity to lay a smooch on a gorgeous woman with a backdrop like that. I’ll never forget that sunset, or that woman.
But that is the past.
As incredible as each of these memories are at producing a warm feeling in the depths of my heart, there is always one question that lurks in the shadows…
Those two words hold more power than many of us will ever come to know.
When asked while looking into the future, it is one of the most empowering questions known to man. But when you ponder the what if’s of the past, the entire thought process can be extremely debilitating.
You start to think back on all of the missed opportunities…
What if I chose to take job A instead of job B?
What if I said “I love you” more often?
What if I decided to stay in the country instead of travel abroad?
In 2004 I decided to stay in college. 3 years later I made the choice to move to California after graduation. Then 2 years after that my truck was totaled in a car accident so I decided to quit my job and travel through Europe.
These are my big three. When I look back, these are three of the most pivotal moments of my life. Each has altered my path in ways I never could have imagined.
As much pain as some of these decisions initially caused me, I believe more and more each day that they were the right moves. Simply because they were moves; I stopped over-analyzing for once in my life and took action. The words of the great Roman philosopher Cicero must have secretly crept their way into my brain.
More opportunities are lost to indecision than to bad decisions.
I have grown stronger from my failures and the hardships endured along the journey. Within each challenge lies an opportunity. An opportunity to change, to grow, to stretch yourself to new limits. I am forever grateful for those opportunities.
I tend to forget, but we all have the ability to continue creating new, glorious memories until the day our hearts stops pounding, our lungs exhale their final breath, and our minds shut down forever.
For it is not the friends and girlfriends that I once had that make this possible, but the relationships present in my life now that allow me to ask what if in a different manner.
It has been said that freedom from the past, or anything else for that matter, always comes in the very instant you stop thinking about it.
But I don’t want to stop thinking about it. They are my memories, my identity.
What if there is a way to savor the memories without having a deep yearning to relive them?
I pose the question to you because I don’t possess the answer.