If You Knew Then What You Know Now

If you’re just a little bit older than you were a few minutes ago, and you have a moment between the planned and unplanned chaos that these current events deliver every day, you may look back on who you were a few minutes ago and say, “If only I knew then what I know now.”

Right away, your mind goes back years to that moment in…high school, perhaps, when a ball was coming your way and you looked up from the playing field, extended your arms and…

Entire movies have been made about this scenario. What if you hadn’t dropped it? What if you were in a different part of the field, but close enough so when the ball drops you can pick it up and run for the goal?

Or what if every single awkward, embarrassing, stupid, or heart-achingly painful thing could be seem in a slightly brighter light?

Or, better yet, what if you could visit yourself, that slightly younger person who, despite every good intention (and maybe a few that weren’t so good), missed the mark more times than they found it, and say, “Hey, it’s okay. I’ve seen the future–I am the future–and it’s all going to be okay.”

You’ll look at yourself in disbelief, absolutely certain that you’ve been cursed, like that Ancient Mariner poem that you didn’t read but said you did and now the teacher passed out a test that is asking questions about albatrosses and you know if you don’t get a good grade on this one you’ll mess up that quarter, bring your grade down and won’t won’t get into that college that your parents thought was just perfect on the campus tour (when all you were thinking about is, do the student tour guides learn how to talk and walk backwards in one of these overly impressive buildings, or was that a skill they were born with?).

“Hey. It’s okay. You’ll go to a different college where, instead of being surrounded by talking, walking backwards snarks, you’ll find the friends and teachers who show you that you already have all the skills you need to do great things in this world.”

That time you had so little money you had to chose between taking the bus home, or spending what was left in your pocket on something cheap to fill your empty stomach, and you held on to your money and your feet ached after walked those long miles home.

“You’ll make so much money that when you see someone panhandling, you’ll offer to buy that person lunch. You won’t just take busses–you’ll drive a sportscar and you’ll get into such good physical condition that you’ll run that distance three times, maybe four–and you’ll feel great when you’re done.”

Remember how really, really, really mad you were when you rushed back to your sportscar and saw the parking ticket flapping on the windshield?

“Pay the ticket. Be grateful you’re not the person whose job it is to write it. Some things are not worth getting upset about.”

That person you really loved who broke up with you and you can’t stop thinking about?

“This is just one of life’s crazy ways of showing both of you how much you care for each other. And you do. You see each other again someday.”

The job you wanted but didn’t get?

“The next job you won’t get either. But the one after that? You’ll end up owning the company.”

The child who drove his first car into a tree?

“He’s not hurt. He’ll become a safer driver than you are.”

That time when the person you voted for wasn’t elected? “You’ll vote another time and someone you chose will get the job.”

And when terrible things are happening next door, down the street, a few blocks away, in the hospital emergency room, or in places that are supposed to be beautiful examples of nature’s bounty–

“Be kind, grateful, generous and forgiving. These things by themselves won’t fix everything that’s wrong the world, but they will help you become the kind of person who just might.”


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