Alice Shaw

If I Had My Time Again…

In Opinion on July 15, 2011 at 6:35 am

I had a disturbing dream last night.  I dreamt I had gone back in time.  I think it was to the early 80’s or thereabouts.  In the dream I was running around telling people about all sorts of things to come.   HIV/AIDS, John Howard becoming Prime Minister, global warming and so on.  I was clearly in a strange mood when I went to bed and may think twice before consuming the better part of a family sized block of fruit and nut chocolate that late at night in the future.  At one point in the dream, I was surrounded by strangers and feeling a bit panicky, so I grabbed my mobile phone out of my pocket to call for help, but it was completely dead.  No phone towers and wireless internet back then!  I think this freaked me out the most. 

But it did get me thinking about whether I would want to have my time over again.  In the film “Peggy Sue Got Married”, Peggy Sue is transported back in time, to her teenage years in the 1950’s and although it seems she goes back to sort things out with her husband, she is smart enough to also use the time to try an invent pantihose.  No entrepreneur am I it seems as it didn’t even occur to me in the dream to try and invent Google

The questions I asked myself when I woke up was, if I had the choice to go back to the start and do it all again, would I?  The answer is no.  I have worked hard to get to where I am today, a place of relative peace but I went through a lot to get here, including some pretty serious heartache and I just don’t think I could do it all again.  But what if you could be given the chance to go back, armed with the knowledge you have now?  I mean it’s tempting when you think about it.  You could go back and break up with that wrong person, before they broke up with you first.  You could ace that interview for that job you desperately wanted but missed out on.  You could be clever with money (or maybe that one is just for me).  You could use all those fantastic come back lines that you only thought of long after the person antagonising you walked away.  And maybe could keep the one that got away from getting away and you could live happily ever after.  But would it really be worth it?  There are a couple of things I would change if I could but not if I had to re-live my whole life.  One thing for sure is that I would have left a very bad marriage a lot sooner, but not if it meant not having my children.  And so there are always “buts” attached.  Sometimes, when things seem very bad indeed, and the universe keeps throwing up all kinds of unpleasantness, it can be tempting to ponder a clean slate.  But messy as some of my life has been from time to time, that dream last night made me realise that everything I’ve been through has brought me to a pretty good place today, and I am not sure I would have been here had it not been for the adversities that life has thrown my way.

 So would you do it?  Would you wipe the slate clean and start over again?  Would you do it with the knowledge you have now if you could or would you start afresh?  Or is it better to leave well enough alone?


  1. I think I have two answers…
    1. If i didn’t have Holly I would start again HAPPILY. I would go to Uni. I would actively seek a nice husband and not just sit back think someone will eventually fall into my lap (so to speak). I would have moved heaven and earth to buy the waterfront apartment at Meadowbank which now overlooks the whole new development area but at the time looked across to Rhodes and Union Carbide and only cost $70,000. I would have saved. I would never have bought a Honda Accord from a family friend without an NRMA check (it died 2 weeks later). I would never have married the man I did.
    2, I have Holly and whatever choices brought me to her, is ok with me.

    • The waterfront apartment…property purchase decisions are probably the one thing I can really look back on and think, “I wish I had’ve…”!

  2. Great post Alice. xx

    I wouldn’t go back. What if one alternative decision changes the way my entire life mapped out. What I have now is special, and regardless of how I got here, I’d be worried I might stuff it up!

    • I agree! I have made one or two decisions that, if faced with them now, I would have done things differently. But if that meant there was a chance I would lose the chance to meet and love some of the people I hold so dear now? No way!

      • Hey Leah! When you think about who you may have missed out on meeting, it probably wouldn’t be worth going back.. thanks for dropping by, nice to see you xxx

  3. It is the stuff that daydreams are made of, is it not? (The old ‘grass is greener’ adage.) It is good to know that you are happy where you are now. Would it be a risk to alter one thing in the past; it may have drastic consequences elsewhere?

    I have thought it would be interesting to go back in time, with current knowledge, but in reality, time moves on and one cannot go back (cf. old relationships).

  4. Finally I am here! I tried to log in a fees times on the iPad app and leave a comment but it didn’t work.

    I think life is full of sliding door moments. If I could go back in time I would be very tempted to havetakenthe opportunity to be a camp counsellor in the US after uni finished, or to have gone to England on teacher exchange after I finished my grad dip Ed. I certainly would have back backed my way around the world and probably have kissed many more young men 😉

    But, having said that I would probably not have what I adore in my life – my music man, our three loved children, our little wooden house full of music and books, my career which gives me so much satisfaction….

    I have had fantasies of knowing everything I do now and having the confidence I have but being back in a 20 year old body! Wow, I would have been a bloody dynamo. I think that’s why we need years of life experience to get to where we are now. A 20 something with our minds would be unbearable, lol!

    • Knowing what we know now, in our young self, is probably a daydream we all have from time to time. But, as my dear father used to say, we all have 20/20 hindsight. I agree with you, that we have to do the years of life experience to make it all work.

  5. I was thinking about this in bed this morning (possibly cough syrup induced…) and I came up with a firm NO. I wouldn’t go back and change things. I’ve had a relationship that left me physically and mentally scarred, a pretty scary illness, quite a number of heartbreaks and the loss of a parent, but my philosophy is that life would be a lot less rewarding if it was less real. And I think tough things make it real. Beautiful things make it real too, of course, but you have to take the tough stuff too. You can’t wish it away.

    PLUS, if we follow the theory that you’d have some sort of learning to take back in time to re-do your life, surely you’d be so absorbed in making different decisions at particular pivotal moments that you’d make other mistakes in moments that seemed less pivotal the first time around! I think we probably don’t notice the multitude of excellent decisions we make daily, and maybe having a do-over would make us realise that maybe we’d actually done a better job the first time…

    The only thing I would do over is NOT wear denim overalls in the 90s. Overalls are only appropriate on people younger than 5 years old, and where they have some sort of function, like on a tradie. Never at ANY other time.

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