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The Home for Christian Writers! Matthew 6:33
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Let's see if you've heard this before: "Hindsight is 20-20." You have, haven't you?
In the majority of the near infinite number of times I've heard the phrase, the person who has just rattled it off is bemoaning his own downfalls and explaining away his fault:
"Why did I do that? Why did I say that? I should have known better," he sighs. "Well, you know what they say, hindsight's 20-20."
And so it is.
I would offer, however, that my reason for mentioning hindsight now doesn't follow the usual lines of thought. I didn't do anything wrong.
But I didn't do things quite right either.
I recently had occasion to consider how little I appreciated a group of people God previously allowed me to see every day, people that could have had a vastly greater impact on me than they did.
I came across a newspaper opinion column from my senior year of college. The first five words were shocking. Thought-provoking.
I didn't write it. My writing skills weren't that well developed. I doubt if time and experience have yet improved them to that level.
As I reread the column, I began to question whether I really appreciated the genius of its message at the time. I thought I did. I was the editor of the paper, I made the decision to run it, and I knew it was good.
But now, I recognize the power of those words far more. I am surprised by the way they stir me. So did I miss something the first time? The answer is yes.
I continued to interview myself.
Do I now appreciate the writer more than I did when I saw him on a regular basis?
Did I lose an opportunity to grow as a person by better knowing him?
Were there other people I knew in college that I missed getting to know as I should? Did I mess up by letting go of those relationships so easily?
Were there other experiences I didn't live to the fullest? Did I lose an opportunity to grow? Were there activities I should have participated in? People I should have gotten to know? Am I altered, not only by the experiences I chose, but also by the experiences I didn't choose?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Am I doing that now, in this day I'm living? Missing people and events that could vastly impact me? Losing opportunities?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Do I even miss moments with the people who impact me daily - my husband, my daughter, my God?
Is it all my fault?
I want to say yes. I want to blame myself for not taking advantage of all the little moments. I want to let myself be angry, bitter and sullen, but that would get me nowhere. After all the questioning, I concede. Hindsight is 20-20.
To think I could expect myself to somehow know the person I will become - and so mold myself to become faster, to glean what I will need instead of what I needed at the moment - is foolish. I'm not omnicient, nor would I wish to be.
In all our lives, our minds act as an automatic Photoshop to our memories, sharpening those it chooses, cropping "unimportant" details at will. Keeping some things in vivid color and going to black and white with others.
We can't reexamine the originals.
What I sometimes think I'd like is an opportunity to treat my life like I do a good book or movie.
I have favorites that I read and watch over and over. I like the ones with developed characters and multiple plots.
Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite novel. In it, three men strip the main character of all he holds dear. He grows strong because of his experiences and he seeks justice against each, finding a new life for himself in the process.
I love the book because every time I read it I notice one more clue as to how the characters' personalities and experiences lead to a perfect conclusion. I ask myself why I never saw this detail or that one before.
I wish I could treat my life in such a manner. I could treat my life like a movie and
Tivo it to rewind occasionally when I have a moment of clarity:
"Wait. . . I seem to remember now that I've felt this way before. When was it? Let's just get out that DVD and review."
We can't Tivo our lives. (That doesn't stop me from often wishing I could.)
I'm glad wishing doesn't change the facts: I can't go back to the original experience and recall the details I missed the first time around. Really, what I missed has made me the person I am just as much as what I didn't.
The appreciation I have now for the life that was just in reach brings me to a deeper recognition of what's important for my future, and so, influences me in a far greater way.
I suppose I can only expect myself to pay attention to each moment's importance as I see it at the time. I can do no better.
Maybe I did do things right after all.
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