The power of music never ceases to amaze me. On my morning commute, I carefully chose songs that took me back to a simpler time – the soundtrack of days gone by. Two minutes into the Police’s “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” as Sting’s magnificent voice filled the air, a series of I-wish-I-could-go-backs floated from the speakers like musical notes swirling and circling about before settling into a whimsical dashboard dance. Instantly, five specific do-overs entered my mind. They’re not regrets because after all, part of the magic and the misery of growing up is rooted in the unknowing. Still, I wish more thoughtfulness had prevailed in these five areas.
1. Parents I think my parents would tell you I was a pretty good kid and I of course would agree. But I rarely considered their worries, their struggles, their hopes or dreams. They were just my parents – the people who loved me, took care of me and gave me money when I needed something. My do-over would include helping them more, resisting them less and thanking them for their every days.
2. Teachers I tell my kids this all the time; your teachers are people. I rarely thought of mine as such. They were just teachers – authority figures who told me what to do and made me sit down and be quiet. My do-over would have me taking more time with them, asking how they are and being more thoughtful of the pressures they’re under every day.
3. Girls God, I love girls – always have. From that first dance in kindergarten to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in a one-room schoolhouse with Aimee Austin, to that spectacular August afternoon when my bride said, “I do.” My do-over would completely change the way I looked at and treated girls and women. I would recognize them not as objects, but rather as exactly what they are: gifts from God – givers of life.
4. Religion I was raised Catholic and I almost immediately rejected it. I saw it as a series of boring, punishing rituals forced upon me by nuns who didn’t care for kids. My do-over would recognize that my parents handed me the greatest gift of all – the gift of salvation. They laid a foundation of faith that cleared the way for me to meet God, have a relationship with him and surrender to Him to direct my days.
5. Siblings I have a brother and a sister. We grew up together and had plenty of laughs, but we were rarely a team. Looking back, we had super powers we never realized. In my do-over, I would be a coach – a cheerleader who loudly and proudly supported them through good and bad times. I would leave no doubt who was in their corner at all times. My sister was the only girl. Growing up is hard. And she did it alone. Did I ever ask how I could help? My brother was the best man in my wedding, but I rarely treated him that way. Did I ever tell him that it doesn’t matter what choices he makes, I’m his brother and I’ll never leave his side?
We can’t go back. There is no DeLorean with a flux capacitor. And even if there were, changing our lives would mess up the delicate space-time continuum (easily the dorkiest thing I’ve ever written). Here’s what I can do: I can recognize my do-overs for what they are and I can teach my daughters to be better than I was. It really comes down to gratitude. And it’s never too late to say “thank you” to parents, teachers, girls, siblings, and yes, even the nuns who helped shape my life. But the biggest thanks goes to a God who has blessed me with so much, and for the mercy He still grants me despite all of those times I fail to look up and say it.
What are your five?