If you could go back…

I want to follow up my last blog post with this one.  In having thought about growing up and always wanting to be older, I realized that I’d arrived there and frankly, being older isn’t as great as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong – I’m married to my dream girl and I have two healthy, gorgeous girls with another baby on the way. We have amazing friends and are surrounded by great families. My career is where I thought it would be, and I can’t legitimately complain about anything.

With that said, it doesn’t hurt to dream in reverse. Let me tell you why I think that dwelling on the past doesn’t do any harm in this case, and might just give us a little insight into who we are.  I’ve taken some more introspective time to reflect on my childhood and youth and couldn’t help but want to go back to some times to experience them again because they were so elemental, so formative, so powerful and so primal, that I want to just go through that experience again.  Conversely, there are a few times in my life that I would love to relive to be able to change them.  I made a few decisions in this life of mine that I wish I could make again, drawing on experiences and lessons I’ve learned since then.

I have had the privilege of conversing about this with some Twitter friends.  I always value other people’s opinions whether I agree or not and I value their perspectives and experiences just as much.  I hope these folks don’t mind me sharing some of them…

@erikholmlund  I look at my 5 year old and the world through his eyes is the one I wished I lived in. Dinos, superheroes and everything is new.

@kiddogawluk  I’d go back to about Grade 11 (IF I could take what I know now with me)

@BrentWelch  11 or 12 would be my choice… had more girls chasing me than ever

@PoisonLolita  it was all downhill after 3 for me, so I want that back.

@TheBestSportMom  Think I’d go back to my first year of university

Also an interesting question from someone who, as far as I know, is younger than the others who were taking part in this conversation, which I found fascinating because she is looking forward instead of back:
@achromatica  What about being older did you wish for? I’m excited for the career part!!

And finally, I loved the response from @kiddogawluk to @achromatica: The 20s are the Building Blocks of all future decades (sounds corny & cliche). I think 20s shape who u become in future.

I’m going to ask these people, or frankly any other readers, for a favor – if you’re taking the time to read this, would you consider adding a comment below to tell us why you’d want to go back to these times, or experience them again?  I’d really appreciate that – I’d love to see where you’re coming from and how it’s affected where you’re going.  If you do, please accept my gratitude in advance.  And if you’re reading this, please come back to see some of their responses – I think they’ll be fascinating!  On a side note, if you’re not already following these folks on Twitter, you should be – they’re all great tweeple.

I found that others I’ve spoken to, tweeted with, etc. chose to want to return to parts of their childhood or youth based on, most of the time, what great things were going on for them at that particular time, and realized that no one will ever give the same answer for this question.  It might come across as an idiotic question and quite “Hot Tub Time Machine”-ish at first, but I found it fascinating to start examining the difference between others’ and my own responses and consider how these responses may be a reflection of who we’ve become.  These experiences we have went through likely have had an enormous impact on who we’ve now become.

As for me, I’d gladly share a few of the times in my past that I’d love to go back to – and why.

First off, I’d love to go back to September 1982. That was the day I spit at my Grade 3 teacher behind her back at recess, and my dad was driving by and saw it. Strangely, when I got home that afternoon, I saw his face and I knew instantly that somehow he knew.  And the disappointment in me and my actions that he expressed when he talked to me about it stayed with me for my entire life.  I wish I could take that enormous display of disrespect back.

Next, I’d like to relive the experience of going to Germany the first time. The wonderment that accompanied seeing where my people came from, the amazing things that our history has wrought out of earth and stone, and seeing what the good and bad of Germany’s history has written on our souls in one way or another – that was truly a formative summer of my life.  In visiting there 8 times, I always loved being there and always saw and learned new things and honestly, I always felt more at home in Germany than here – but nothing can compare to the pure magic of the first time I set foot there.

I would also like to go back to my university days. I could have avoided a relationship that didn’t do me much good and I would have hunted Aimie down and told her, “Babe, let’s do this NOW because we’re going to end up together and I don’t want to spend any more of my life without you”.  Hopefully she’d accept – wouldn’t THAT suck if she didn’t? 🙂

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly to me – if only I could return to any time in my life where my dad was still alive, I would give almost anything to do it.  I would give so much to just see my dad again, to hug him, to kiss him and to hear his voice.  I would have so many questions that I never got a chance to ask him, and would love to get his advice on things to come.  I’ve seen and experienced so many things since he left us, and I wish I could go back to that time to tell him one more time how much he was to me, and how much I wish he could have seen me as a husband and daddy and how much I would have loved to have seen him as an Opa, holding my babies and hugging my wife.

So in reviewing what people have told me about what time in their life they would like to go back to and the times that I’d like to go back to, I firmly believe we hang on to those memories, those times where life either went really well for us or horribly wrong – and we’d either love to relive them because they were so amazing, or relive them because we would do anything to take them back and go about matters in a different way.  All respectable perspectives, to be sure, but in the end, it turns out that only one thing matters…

It is that we have, in fact, already experienced these times and for better or worse, will never relive them.  We can never go back and experience them again, and we take with us the good and the bad – we love to reminisce because of the happy times and we love to hate the times we wish we could take back.  Yet we can’t do either – we can only move forward and make the best of those experiences, and couple them with our values, our beliefs, our passions and our souls – and be ourselves as it was always meant to be.

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About Wildsau

I’ve been a cliched happily-married husband for over 10 years, father to 2 girls and 1 boy. I’m an outspoken guy, Apple evangelist, car freak, mini-van driver and a seeker of justice for the people. I’m a proud lifelong resident of Edmonton, AB and love my Edmonton Oilers. I truly enjoy a good coffee, especially paired with conversation, and I’ll take a piece of pie any time. I'm starting to enjoy quality teas lately but that's probably my age. My wife and I love cooking, creating gourmet experiences and sharing them with people, whether it’s in person or with pictures. My career allows me to work with people at their most vulnerable, and I appreciate their trust in me. I try to exercise empathy in life, as I realize I could easily be walking a mile in someone else’s shoes before I know it. Follow me on Twitter at @Wildsau if you’re interested in my daily blathering. But buckle up and be forewarned, it’s not for the faint of heart at times.
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14 Responses to If you could go back…

  1. kiddogawluk says:

    Great blog!! Loved it. Especially loved the part about me! HA HA.

    I just felt compelled to expand a bit. When I commented to @achromatica about the 20’s being the Building Blocks, I was thinking about some of the good times and the bad times of that decade that have helped me become who I am today. I got married (for the first time) in my mid-20’s. I made some career choices in my 20’s. Although I don’t necessarily like the path that those choices took me, I don’t regret them. I know with 100% certainly that my first marriage helped me become who I am to succeed at this 2nd marriage. (not such a diva…well, maybe a little).

    All the choices I made in that first decade of adulthood set me on a path in life. It seemed that @achromatica was feeling that frustration of “I wanna hurry up and get to the good part”. But, honey, you ARE at the good part. Take time to enjoy the “shaping” process. 😉

    Thanks Wildsau for bringing up this conversation. I think it’s got us all thinking about our past, our present and our future.

  2. PoisonLolita says:

    So, for most of you reading this, you don’t know me very well. I’m going to tell you a secret about me. I chose 3, because that’s the last year I was still a child. A year later, I was raped by an older cousin. I never told my parents. If I could go do it all over again, I’d tell them so that I could have gotten the help that I desperately needed for my entire life, and that may have kept me from making so many mistakes in my teenage and adult years. The folks still have no idea, and at this point I have no desire to tell them, and I’ve addressed the situation. But if I could go back to that, I’d change it all.

  3. Sandra says:

    Loved your post, and it started me thinking about where I would go. Worth a blog post in response.

  4. Ee says:

    If I had a chance to go back in time, I would like go back to my teenage days & build a stronger less strained relationship with my dad. If I had been able to understand him then like I do now maybe I wouldn’t feel like I missed out on lots of father-daughter moments. 🙂 Secretly, I’ve always wanted to be daddy’s lil girl.

    And why does your blog entries make me tear up??! 😀

  5. Gally says:

    It’s quite an interesting concept you’ve expanded on. On first instinct, I would say that I would go back to my first year of college. Dumb people get degrees. Smart people do, but an amazing amount of dumb people have them as well. I’m the complete opposite of dumb. My IQ, for what it’s worth, sits in one of those rarifed levels that so few can attain. Yet I flunked out of University twice* because I never applied myself. *once and I left once because I hate the way our post-secondary system works. I could or should have 2-4 degrees now, and something resembling a career. I keep hearing about this potential I have, but unless it’s something I’m interested in, I have been so far unable to harness it. Generalized education is not something that interests me. Having said that, my first thought would be to go back and just push through something I dislike in order to be able to have the trappings of a modern life.

    I don’t think that’s where I would go though. I would go back to the woman that I KNEW I was going to marry. She knew it, I knew it and people close to us knew it. Things were going so well that we kind of took things and each other for granted. Combined with external stresses, An a medical

    • Gally says:

      And a medical one, we unfortunately separated and since then, things have grown rather terse. So if I’m just reliving a moment for the pure ecstasy, I’m either going back to the moment where I realized she was the one or the moment she told me she loved me the first time. That look of pure unadulterated joy in here face as she shared that secret with me is seared in my brain and will be with me forever. If I could paint or draw, that’s the picture I’d do and it would be my masterpiece.

      If I’m reliving it to change it, I ensure that we don’t take each other for granted. I had never experienced love like that before or since then. I go back to make sure that we love each other for one more month, one more week, one more day, one more hour…

      It’s amazing that essentially the greatest and most difficult things I’ve ever encountered have come out of the same situation.

      I’m not sure if this was the direction you were going with this post, but it seemed to be and so I thought I’d share.

  6. habanerogal says:

    Yes why does what you say always give me those big fat tears ? Makes me think about my dad as well who I lost 9 years ago and have been grieving for in tiny little bursts all the while. There is no changing and certainly can be no regret as every experience shapes us and becomes part of who we are now. My only fond wish is that I did not document more of the life I have lived until now.

  7. Erik says:

    I’ve known Tom since junior high or high school in Leduc. We weren’t BFFs, but were definitely friendly. And I have learned more about him through these blogs than I knew about him back then. Great post.

    I try not to have any regrets and always look forward, although there are always things I look back on and probably would have made a different decision, like giving junior hockey a go, traveling more or extricating myself from a relationship earlier than I ultimately did. But the path I took led me to where I am and I’m pretty happy these days.

    My comment about seeing the world through my son’s eyes had more to with the innocence and sense of wonder he has. He lives life curiously and just wants to be happy. And that’s a really great thing.

  8. Tamara Stecyk says:

    I believe that we are presented with opportunities and have the power to choose how to use these opportunities. We also learn from the choices that we make.
    There is a choice or a path that I would be curious about if I had taken it instead of the route that I went. It’s like my favourite show, Being Erica, where the main character has a chance to see what would happen if she had taken that path.
    I was living in Slave Lake at the time and my Edmonton friends were encouraging me to move to the city but I stuck it out as a small town reporter. I’ve always wondered how my life would be different if I did make that move. But it’s not a regret because I would have missed out in meeting all the wonderful people and friends along the way to where I am now.
    As for a regret, this is more recent. I was working for a woman that I highly respected and I totally blew it. I made too many mistakes and as a result, she hardly could or would talk to me at the end. Prior to this, we were getting along so well and I regarded her as a mentor. We haven’t spoken in three years and I’ve been too chicken to see if I can mend fences with this woman who I would like to model my work ethic after. I still have a debate in my mind once in a while to see if I should contact her.

  9. Chris says:

    Wow, another amazing blog. You truly do have a gift my friend. Through reading your blogs, you have helped me to see things again that I needed to see. You have reminded me of the better things in life. The things that tend to easily be hidden in the shadow of the daily grind.

    I don’t know if this is the right stage to say this and I certainly do not have the same talent with words that many here possess, so please forgive my prattle.

    Your blogs have compelled, no, inspired me to do something that does not come easily to me. Although I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, I do not often share my opinions or feelings openly, but I find myself very intrigued by your blog.

    If you could go back………….

    At first I thought, “Man, if I could go back, the things I would do differently”. I figured I could easily rattle of at least a dozen different things right off the bat. I started to really think hard about the decisions I have made throughout my life.

    The longer and harder I thought about it, the more one question kept popping up. “Would you really have changed what you did in that situation?”

    We have all had to go through very difficult and painful times, myself definitely included. As hard as some of those times were, and as low as I had felt, after having thought about it, I don’t know if I would change them if I could.

    As some of the others have stated, it is the things we do and experience in life that infinitely shape who we are. I like to think that I have led a fairly decent life, and I do like who I have become. I do wonder how things would have turned out had I made different decision on some of those occasions but I am quite content with how things have turned out.

    That being said, I did, at one point in my life, dwell on the ‘What if” factor for a very long time. In fact, it was Mr. Wildsau himself and his wonderful wife, my very best friends, that helped me out of that slump. I cannot thank them enough for helping me to see my way out.

    Although that was probably the hardest thing in my life that I have had to deal with, there was nothing about it that I would have done differently given the chance. Wildsau helped me to see that.

    For me it boils down to one basic thing and as cliche as it may be it is how I like to look at life.

    Treat others the way you would like to be treated and if a decision feels right, then it probably is.

    Well that’s my two bits. Thanks again for the great blogs. Keep it up.

    Wurd,

  10. Ali says:

    Hi, it’s @missquicksilver 🙂

    You have quite a gift for writing. Very articulate and touching – I love it.

    If I could go back in time I’d be 18 again. Back to when I thought I knew everything, and thought I was already a grown-up. I’d shake some sense into myself, realize that I was still just a baby then, and I would have gone to England for a year with my best friend, like we’d always talked about. That time with her would have been priceless and it would have opened my eyes a bit, I’m certain.

    That’s not to say I’m not happy with my life now – my career, husband and daughter are exactly what I’d dreamed of – I just wish I had experienced a little more of the world while I could, if that makes sense.

    I can’t imagine what it must be like for you not to have your dad around. My biggest fear in life is the day I lose my dad. That man is my hero, bar none.

    Thanks for these posts – they make me think, which are the best kind 🙂

  11. Tom, what are you billing for this session?

    I hope its not rude to say here, but I wouldn’t want to redo any part of my life. I wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough, and I’m really happy where I am now. I like my life and appreciate my weird background that helped form me to the crazy guy I am today.

    -Jerry

  12. Dave McQueen says:

    I saw the response to your blog entry from PoisonLolita. I was so
    struck with her bravery. WOW.

    I wish I could think of a time that I wanted to go back to. I have
    never experienced happiness. Many of the readers responses refer to a
    happy time in their lives, I just don’t have a time like that. I am
    constantly fearful, on edge. I’ve been told that I am in a state of
    hyper vigilance. I find that I am confused by the notion of
    happiness, and jealous of others who know what it is and have
    experienced it even for a short time.

    Whenever I’ve told my story I’ve been met with stunned, sickened
    faces. Faces that look at me as though I’m from Mars. I’ve put people
    off meals and confused people enough that I really can’t tell it
    anymore, at least not without making myself and those around me cry. I
    am finding it easier now though, it’s becoming part of who I am,
    sometimes I look on it quite matter of faculty. Sometimes I can’t even
    think about it.

    A few years ago (1993 if I remember correctly) I went to a 10 week 9-5
    Monday to Friday group therapy at the Grey Nuns hospital. It was HARD
    work. I spent the first 2 months trying hard to participate, but I was
    so thoroughly numb, I just didn’t have what was needed to feel
    ANYTHING. Towards the end of my time there I started to feel safe
    enough to feel again and open up a little.

    Piece by piece I told my story. The room was silent, filled with ashen
    faces. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe me, but the disgust and
    disbelief was thick in the air.

    I told them how I had been going to therapy off and on for the
    previous 10 years or so. I had been taking a much more intense therapy
    for the previous 2 years. During this time I had relived a huge amount
    of the trauma that had brought me to that place in my life.

    My then therapist asked me what I remembered from my childhood, I
    responded that apart from one or two mental snapshots nothing at all.
    I had suppressed almost my entire childhood. I underwent many months
    of a form of regressive therapy.

    I learned and relived an extraordinary amount about my life. What was
    normal to me and what was considered normal and acceptable to the rest
    of society.

    For example I have never quite known why I need to wash dishes in a
    certain sequence. Then I found out why. After a sunday lunch I was
    doing the washing up for the family meal, I put my hands into the hot
    soapy water and felt something strange. I raised my arms out of the
    water and there was blood flowing down my hands and arms. The carving
    knives were in the water. My mum came in to see what all the fuss was
    about, I probably cried. She then beat me with the flat blades of the
    knives.

    One afternoon whenI was 6 years old while I was locked out of the
    house (a commonplace occurrence), I trod on a short piece of wood. The
    rusty nail that was sticking up and out of it went through the sole of
    the shoe, though my foot and then out the other side of the shoe. I
    vividly remember hopping to the back door screaming and crying for her
    to let me indoors. After what felt like hours she let me in. She
    blamed me and hit me, then we went to the family doctor to see if he
    could attend to me. It hadn’t even occurred to me that we could/should
    have gone to the hospital. I was ok, physically, but I needed a
    tetanus jab.

    The therapist often said that as I went back I would physically
    change. My face became grey, and I would appear to shrink. I became
    smaller like a little boy. I relived many, many of the beatings and
    emotional degradation at the hands of my mother. During one of these
    sessions I was hit so hard while in a trance state that I fell off my
    chair in the present. I relived her breaking some of the dozens of
    wooden spoons over me. I remember scrambling backwards away from her
    beating me with a meat tenderizer. My body was under the kitchen sink
    and I was up in the ceiling watching it all happen, once again.

    For many years I have had a recurring dream it begins with me doing
    something wrong (that was never shown in the dream) followed with my
    mum having her hand over my mouth to shut me up, then my flailing in
    complete utter panic as I felt trapped and then realize that I am
    unable to breathe. I can still remember passing out in her arms and
    falling to the ground then rising up and out of my body. I looked down
    on my body lying on the ground with her bent over me. In the therapy
    session when I relived this event, the suppressed part of the memory
    came out and revealed what happened next. It seems that it wasn’t my
    typical out of body experience, this time it was a near death
    experience. I nearly died at her hands. The one person who is supposed
    to protect me was killing me.

    By that time in my life I’d had thousands of out of body experiences.
    I had no idea what astral planing was until I was in my thirties. I
    honestly thought everyone could fly. I’d spent so many hours in the
    sky looking down on the roofs of houses, it always seemed very
    natural. When a dentist was unable to freeze my teeth in about 1995 I
    asked her to carry on and I relaxed and left my body and flew around
    over Edmonton’s river valley. She was visibly shocked what I came back
    into the room relaxed and feeing no pain at all.

    I’ve been so used to out of body experiences that I genuinely thought
    that everyone hid in ceilings and cracks in the walls. I’ve had dozens
    of bicycle, motorcycle and car crashes due to not even being in my own
    body. My therapist asked me how often I do it, I just did not know the
    answer, so she suggested that I count how often it happens. Only
    having just learned that I was a little er unusual in this respect I
    was a little curious, so I counted the frequency. Well I tried, I
    found that it was happening so frequently that I was unable to count
    as quickly as I was dissociating.

    Dissociating, that was at the term that the professionals used to
    describe my coping mechanism. Survival mechanism. That’s what I’d been
    doing all my life. Surviving, coping.

    The numerous rapings by a teacher (he was a brother, a step beneath
    Catholic priest) began when I moved to that school at the age of 7 and
    continued until I was 11. At that point I left and went to a grammar
    school. In these sessions I recalled every painful detail, the
    decorations in the rooms, the rough grey woollen blanket, the desk
    that I was bent over, the door handle, the keyhole. Excruciating
    detail. I still can’t bear to be touched on the sides of my body, the
    pain of even the gentlest touch hurts and frightens me too much.

    The list goes on and on. The therapist even suggested that I write a
    book. The title was obvious to me: “Parade of Demons”. When I’ve been
    asked about my past, If I can’t politely brush them off I tell them to
    think of the worst thing they can double it. Was I abused? Yes the
    full set: sexual, physical and emotional.

    Many people have told me that they’re surprised I’ve turned out as
    well as I have. Far from normal (whatever that is!) or very stable.
    But not dead, in jail, a drug addict, an alcoholic or in anyway
    violent.

    On the whole I like who I am. I am a quiet, gentle, loving, loyal guy.
    I really have no idea what it is to be a man, I haver tried to define
    it but no luck so far. I can be a little too thoughtful, give too much
    of myself away in a desire to be liked and loved. I have many
    acquaintances, but very few friends. I honestly don’t know what it is
    that they see in me.

    I can’t feel anger or happiness, so much of those emotions have been
    hidden away. Sadness and depression is constantly with me. I am not
    able to get violent, I don’t really understand it. I have never once
    laid a hand on my daughter, not one spank.

    Suicide has been an viable option for me as far back as I can
    remember. I’ve always had a plan. I realized that I find it comforting
    to have a way out. I have never actually attempted it, I’m not sure
    why. I do know that I won’t need a second go at it, I am very
    thorough.

    Somehow I always manage to keep trying. Keep on keeping on. Always
    looking for the silver lining. I really don’t know why I’m still l
    around. One day at a time.

  13. Paula says:

    As a society, we have a tendency to idealize childhood as though those days are perfectly innocent and carefree. Some of the posts here have proven that theory to be a total fallacy. Add me to the list of people who had a miserable childhood but somehow ended up reasonably all right as an adult. I would not want my childhood or teen years back even if that could somehow happen. The trauma I experienced being severely bullied carried through into my 20s and comes back to haunt me from time to time even now.

    Bullying can mean so much more than throwing just a few punches or hurtful names around (not to downplay the magnitude of either of those behaviours, which are totally inappropriate and often lead to bigger things down the road, especially in the face of parents and administrators who are too quick to turn a blind eye). Some children are taunted emotionally, physically brutalized, and sexually exploited by their very own classmates.

    That last sentence describes much of my primary and junior high school years.

    To this day there are certain words and even tones of voice that trigger an almost visceral response from me. I don’t like being touched in certain ways and I have issues with personal space. Despite being in leadership positions and in the public eye, I carry shyness within me and always a sense of somehow being judged by others.

    If I could go back, perhaps I would have tried to stand up more for myself. Maybe I would have reported what was going on before it got out of hand. But I can’t. None of us can go back to that magical point where if only we did or said something different, the proverbial magic wand would be waved and things would be different. Why wish for something that can never be?

    And besides, I finally actually like myself now. Most of the time.

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