|Image courtesy of Alvimann|
Do you know what my favorite key is on my computer? It's the DELETE key. All kinds of problems go away when I press DELETE. I use it all the time. Junk e-mail? DELETE. Misspellings? DELETE. Unwieldy sentences and confusing paragraphs? DELETE. DELETE. I sometimes wish my life had a DELETE key. One click on the key and I wipe out a mistake. Maybe another click and I could start the day all over again.
And being one who blunders in grand fashion, I have empathy for others who wish they could go back and start over. Like the couple that phoned a neighbor to extend birthday greetings. As the phone was answered they belted out the song "Happy Birthday." But when they finished their off-key rendition, they were informed that they had dialed the wrong number. After listening to their embarrassed apologies, the recipient said, "Don't let it bother you. You folks need all the practice you can get."
According to Tara Kelly Walworth (Reader's Digest), she and her new husband had an afternoon they may have wanted to take back. They arrived exhausted at their honeymoon destination in Daytona Beach, Florida (USA) and decided to refresh themselves in the motel pool. She figured she'd lost a few pounds leading up to the wedding when she discovered her skimpy, new bikini fit too loosely. Every time she dived into the pool she seemed to lose either the top or bottom. But since they had the pool to themselves, they just laughed and retrieved the pieces.
They later dressed for dinner and decided to eat in the motel restaurant. Waiting for a table in the lounge, they noticed a huge, empty, glistening fish tank above the bar. "Why is such a beautiful fish tank empty?" her husband asked the bartender.
The man grinned broadly and said, "That's not a fish tank. It's the swimming pool."
I think it was New York City Mayor Fiorello Laguardia who once said, “I rarely make a mistake. But when I do, it's a beaut!”
Have you ever wanted to take back an embarrassing moment? Or more importantly, how often have you regretted a hasty decision that ended with disastrous consequences? Or an unfair and angry outburst that caused unnecessary hurt? Some of my worst mistakes were not the embarrassing moments (later on they make the best stories), but pain I caused other people and poor decisions that did damage I could never repair.
The problem is, some mistakes really can't be corrected. Some hurts just can't be undone. As they say, it's like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. Sometimes the best we can do is to make amends. And no DELETE key can erase the past so we can do it over – do it better.
The past is what it is – past. And that, too, is good to remember. It is past. Over. Finished. There is no taking it back, yet no purpose is served in reliving and rehashing old memories. It is gone. My best self says to me, “Let it be a teacher.” So I try to learn from its harsh lessons as well as its joys. Then (and this is important), my best self adds, “Now just leave it. Leave it where it belongs – in the past.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Yes, tomorrow is a new day. Full of hope and promise and new beginnings. And that is something I might forget if life had a DELETE key.
-- Steve Goodier
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