A few weeks ago I sold a car.
I’ve never sold anything worth more than a couple of dollars before, so the experience was actually a little bit intimidating.
To get the car ready to sell we needed to bring it to a shop for a safety check, and then address any issues that came from that (thankfully there’s weren’t many). Once that was done and the car was cleaned up inside and out it was time to put it up for sale.
All that was left was the little question of price.
What was an appropriate price? Truthfully, I had no idea. So it was time to do some research. I looked up other ads for the same model and year, talked to an insurance company for an estimated value, and checked a website with estimated values for cars.
I took all these numbers, factored in the condition of the car, and made a judgement call on what seemed “right”.
I posted the ad on Friday morning, hoping that the car would go within a few weeks…
…and then my phone started to ring.
I had a number of people interested in coming to take a look at it, and when I got home from work I had two people show up at my place right away. Both were interested in the car, and I ended up selling it for exactly what I asked. No bargaining, no haggling.
Pretty good, right?
In most ways, yeah. But the response also makes me think I could and probably should have charged more.
I kind of wished I could have gone back in time 24 hours and added another $500 to what I was asking. I mean, I could definitely use the money and I’m (now) pretty sure I would have got it.
Thing is, I can’t. There is no rewind button.
Pricing the car was based on a decision that seemed like the right one at the time. And that was all I could do.
That’s pretty much how life goes. We are constantly making decisions, both big and small. And when we make them, they are the decisions that appeared right to us in that moment.
Maybe our choice was based on careful deliberation or maybe it was an impulsive action. Maybe we did something because we thought it was the altruistic thing to do, or maybe we were only thinking about ourselves (basically being a selfish asshole).
In some ways, our “intent” doesn’t matter as much as the result does. Was that decision actually a good one? And more importantly, if presented with the same choice in the future would we make the same decision?
Even if we later realize that the decision was a terrible one, we can’t change it. Life doesn’t come with a rewind button.
Once we’ve made choice, it’s happened – and it’s up to us to own our decisions and live with the consequences – good or bad.
In psychology, rumination is a term used to describe being:
compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solution
Generally speaking, rumination is a BAD thing. Getting caught up in would’ve, could’ve, should’ve and what if? can trap you in the past. Sometimes people spend so much time and energy worrying about the things they’ve done and how they should or could have done them differently that they are unable to move forward in life.
The way I see it, time spent in rumination is nothing but wasted time.
No matter how much we may wish life came with a rewind button we can’t change it. It doesn’t matter if you would do something differently with what you know now, you didn’t.
A choice we made, and now all you can do is live with the consequences.
That’s not to say the past doesn’t matter.
We are still the owners of our own decisions. So we need to own them, and be accountable for them.
This is well summed up by the late Muhammad Ali:
Learning is the key here. Life doesn’t have a rewind button. We are always moving forward, whether we like it or not.
We should always try to learn from our choices.
I’m not the same me that I was at 20.
I’m not the same me that I was at 30.
And I shouldn’t be.
Our past is important because it shapes us. And it provides considerable value if we look at what we’ve done, what was good, what was bad, and try to be better next time.
But it should never trap us.
We make choices, good and bad. But we only become trapped in our past when we refuse to use it to grow.
11 thoughts on “What if Life had a Rewind Button?”
intention versus results or consequences. Egoistic intentions and actions equals bad consequences in particular when we hurt others in the process. Learning from those…yes that makes us better people…
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If I had a rewind button, I’d do a lot of things differently…
Hi Boots, I have days that I feel the same ways.
Then again, I am the sum of my experiences – and I generally like “me”. So I’m not sure if I would actually change anything.
A while ago I wrote a post called What If where I talked about when people ruminate on the past and think about “what if I had done X differently”. I think that’s always flawed, because we can never truly predict what would have happened. Plus when we do that, we are usually focusing on the bad in a scenario we wish we could change and only looking at the potential good of the new/imagined scenario.
It’s the grass is greener scenario. And most people find that the grass is really the same everywhere – what actually matters is how and where you choose to water it.
Ah, I’m just rambling I guess.
That said, sometimes it’s fun to play what if and imagine scenarios that I know aren’t realistic. It can be a great form of escapism when times are tough.
I’m glad you feel that way. I do like some of me. I just wish some of my life choices had been different.
Hey Boots, from the small window I have into your life I know that things have been difficult the past year plus.
But this doesn’t sound quite like the Boots that I first met. I hope things are alright, and you’re doing well.
I guess one of the themes of this post was, whatever has happened has happened. So all we can really do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, try to learn, and keep growing as a person.
At times that seems really hard, and maybe this is one of those times for you.
If so, just remember that life never works in a linear path. There are always bumps and curves along the way – but we are always writing our own future.
Sending good thoughts your way…
I am doing okay. The past year or so have been difficult. We do stay home a lot because we don’t want to expose my son to any more sickness. So I had a lot of time to be alone and think. I have started to regret focusing on my kids way too much and I feel at times, I have none left for me.
With my oldest son leaving for college soon, I know I will feel half empty. Most of my married life, I have focused on my kids and with one away from us and the other whose health I’m constantly worried about, it is stressful and have caused me a lot of anxiety. I don’t know what’s it’s like to just focus on me. That’s why it’s important for me to take the trip to Nepal. I really need it.
Also, I wish I have a career. I love(d) being a mom full time but that job is too selfless. My son going to Stanford makes me proud and I feel that I have contributed to why he was successful in high school but at the end of the day that’s still his—his success, his life, his accomplishments…not mine. And when I think of going back to work, I no longer have the skills and in today’s world, the competition is fierce.
So anyway, I am rambling too lol! Thanks for taking the time.
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I think I understand that, and I have seen many people stuggle with a lot of the same questions.
Truly, parenting is the hardest job in the world. Once you become a parent, your life ceases to be “yours”. And usually it’s women who bear that brunt of that loss of identity after the kids are born.
At first you are so happy and excited by the prospect of being a parent. You want the best for them, so you throw yourself into the role, doing everything you can for them and always being there for them.
It’s not until years later that people usually wake up and realize that in being a parent, they have lost “them”. And not just that, but often they have lost sight of their relationship with thier partner, and the couple they were before the kids came.
Looking at divorce stats, there are a few significant times that couples get divorced. First is within a few years after getting married – generally because they weren’t really very good together to begin with. Next is when the kids are anywhere from about 2-6, and that I think is often more a reflection on the extra stresses of being a parent and how in being a parent the couple has lost sight of what it meant to be a couple. They are often still friends and co-parents, but they have lost sight of being lovers and both mourn that loss and don’t know how to get it back. Then there’s when the empty nest starts to hit, and the couple realizes that the only thing they had left in common the past few years was the kids. With the kids gone, there’s really nothing left for them.
Kids can be really rewarding, but it’s soooo easy to lose yourself in them and have them overwhelm your identity as an individual and as a couple. I write more on the couple side of things, but the individual side is huge too.
A career may provide another source of meaning in your life, but the same issues would still be there even with one. A buddy and I recently talked about this. We are pretty close, but only see each other a few times a year. He said he pretty much goes to work, comes home and is a parent, and that’s it. Rinse and repeat. There’s very little time left for “him”, and the few times he and I go out are pretty much his only outlet.
There’s no easy answer to it, other than recognizing it and doing your best to carve out time for yourself and to nurture and grow your marriage as well (if that’s an issue for you. Not saying it is, but that’s more my writing focus so I just threw it in).
I think the Nepal trip will be great for you – and I’m hugely jealous about it. Try to find enjoyment in all the little moments every day though too. I try to take a bit of time each day to practice thankfulness and appreciation for the good in my life. Often the good gets lost in the shuffle because when we see it everyday we stop noticing it.
You just nailed it Drew- bullseye! I do try to enjoy the little moments, grateful for being so incredibly blessed. We’ve fought a battle not everyone wins and we did. But sometimes it’s the drudgery of the day to day life that gets you. And sometimes forget that life may have thrown you a hundred reasons to cry, there are still a thousand reasons to smile.
Oh yeah, I hear you.
I recently watched the movie Boyhood – fascinating film (since it was filmed over 12 years and you actually see the people grow up in it).
Not to spoil anything if you haven’t seen it (not that there’s really a plot anyhow), but there’s a moment where the mom’s son is heading off to college and she breaks down crying.
A really poignant moment was when she said something like “this is it? Now you’re leaving, and next will be my funeral. I just thought there would be more”
I just thought there would be more.
I think when we are young, we all think that. We’ll grow up to be adults, and we’ll have some magical amazing life.
And then we get there, and find ourselves punching a clock and living day to day. Maybe getting a vacation in once in a while, but life is drudgery.
And we wonder, is this it?
Sadly, yeah. It kind of is.
That doesn’t have to be a bad thing though.
Once we let go of what we thought life we be and we accept it for what it actually IS, I think we can start to see the beauty that is there.
And man oh man, there actually is a lot of magic and beauty there. We just have to remember to see it.
I haven’t seen the movie but I can relate with what you have just told me. I often feel that way and ask, ‘so this is it?’ And yes, if we stop imagining that life is like the movies, our expectations would be lower and probably live happier. The best way to live is to accept that life is the way it is. And to also stop comparing your life with others. There are those who are incredibly luckier than you and those who are less fortunate than you.
Just learn to live with life.
But your post got me thinking if I had a button to rewind life…I’d definitely change the full time mom part. Although I don’t regret the times I spent with my kids because I saw all their milestones and I hold on to those memories to convince myself I (still) chose the right path.
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