That's the entire premise of a novel called Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by the Russian writer P.D. Ouspensky. It's a fascinating book and I won't give away the ending in case any of you decide to read it. But suffice it to say it's quite a surprising conclusion Ouspensky comes to.
So what about you? How would you live if you could live your life over again?
Here's a quote from psychologist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl.
Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.
Interesting, no? I suppose you could've acted rightly the first time around and really didn't need to do the opposite, but certainly I think most of us would make wholesale changes.
I know for me I would take more risks. I'd be less worried about the outcomes of things. For years I was just terrified of making mistakes. And really what that boiled down to was a fear of looking stupid AND, even more painful, the self recrimination that came along with making the mistake.
Now, it's still an issue to a degree, but I'm much freer with making mistakes. In fact, I've got a lot of catching up to do. (I'm looking to really increase my number of mistakes! And why not, for so many years I've done the opposite.) But yeah, it's like Life. Life is about making mistakes. I heard a preacher say once, "Life is a dance class for klutzes." And I keep thinking of that Steve Jobs notion of 'don't be afraid of losing anything because you lose it all in the end anyway.' How true is that!
And that's the thing, I'd been living as if I was going to live forever. "Oh, what if I make a mistake?" I'd constantly think. And then I'd catastrophize things on top of that. A slow leak in a tire became a blowout and a head-on car crash (killing a family of twelve) in my imagination.
But those days are over. I like what the writer Lucinda Bassett talks about saying it's okay to have "occasional chaos and gross imperfection." That's the new me. Did I make a mistake? SO WHAT!
But there are so many things I would've done differently if I had a chance to live over. I wouldn't have wasted so much time. I would've taken more advantage of my schooling opportunities. I would've been kinder to people. I would've believed my parents more.
How about you?