As far as I know we only get one crack at this thing called ‘life’. Pisses me off, that does because once you’ve gained a certain mastery of the thing it comes to an end. Where’s the advantage in that?
I mean, there is reincarnation. But, most reincarnation precepts hold that once you croak the first time and then come back; you aren’t entitled to remember aspects of your former time around. You know, what with wading in the River Lethe and all. That sucks, too. You should be able to put what you’ve learned to good use and not make the same mistakes.
Now, should I return to this earthly sphere I do know the things I’d like to do, but also (and perhaps more importantly) the things I definitely would not do. I have lived and I have learned and am quite prepared to concede I have made some gaffes along the way. Nothing horrific, but counter-productive nonetheless.
I have been blessed, I am prepared to concede, in many respects. I got to be born where I was, in a democracy and a place that holds out hope for those with a modicum of talent and energy and a tad of intellect. I live in a decent neighborhood in a nice town. I’ve thus far never either committed a crime nor been a victim of one. I have friends whom I value and love. While my childhood was far from ideal, it wasn’t wretched. I wasn’t beaten or forced to do without material sustenance. My parents were law-abiding folk. And, although my mother became a rather sad alcoholic later in her life, for the most part she was OK.
Currently I live in a nice house with a nice lady whom I love greatly. She is somebody who was prepared to accept me, warts and all, after my – shall I say – pushed a bit to the limits years before I met her. Since she arrived I have kept to the straight-and-narrow, and I like that.
Now, here’s what I wouldn’t do in my next life:
– get married young. I wasn’t all that young when I got married at age 24, but I was ridiculously ‘unformed’ in terms of wants and needs from a relationship. And, even though that marriage took a long time to founder, ultimately it did. Divorce isn’t at all enjoyable and if it could be avoided I’d like that next time around.
– Start smoking A vicious and pernicious addiction that is hell to stop. What makes it worse is that (like many addictions) smoking is relentless in its appeal to pleasure centers. So, kids, don’t start and in my next life I’m not going to do so.
– Be afraid: There have been courses and highways and byways in life that I haven’t followed because I haven’t had the self-confidence to say, “What the fuck, why not? If it doesn’t work out then it won’t work out. Where’s the loss?” Fear is soul-destroying.
– Be unfaithful: A bit soul-destroying for all involved. I like to think that if I hadn’t gotten married young I might have kept my zipper in place with a little more resolve. Mind you, I also got to know some awfully charming people whom I cared about a lot.
And here’s what I would do:
– Travel hugely: I’ve traveled a reasonable amount, I’ve lived abroad. I have seen many things. But there are also places I’ve never been and things I’ve never seen. I want to see them all. I know I can’t this time around, but next time, sure I will.
– Have children: I have no children. This one’s simple. I’d love to have a child. Preferably, as I was raised in a masculine household, a girl child. Female toddlers can practically make me weep with delight at seeing them.
– Be circumspect with alcohol: In my day I loved a fine wine, a pint of best bitter, a single-malt scotch, a vintage cognac. I loved them, but I didn’t respect them. They ultimately didn’t respect me. So ultimately I bade them ta-ta. I don’t miss them, but it would have saved a lot of bullshit from happening if I’d, say, recognized what was happening.
– Explore all the depths of love I can muster: Love is what life is all about and it should be considered deeply. I’d like another crack at it and do it better.
So, I probably won’t get that extra shot – but you never know.