As a budding young pup, I would fervently hit the “save” button as I played through a video game. When I was about to open a door, I’d hit “save.” If ominous music were to begin playing in the background: save. Leap over the precipice of a gaping crevice? Pause. Options. Save game.
In a sense, it was borderline OCD behavior. I would leave nothing up to chance. If things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, I would simply reload back a few moments and play it out my way.
It was, at times, a maddening process, one that would drive me to have a shock of white hair by the age of six.
I’m sure that some of you out there will look upon the opening lines and smirk to yourself, knowing full well that you’ve been guilty of doing the same — to varying degrees, of course.
Growing up immersed in a microcosm where hitting “pause” followed by “reset” could essentially obliterate any mistakes leaves one with a somewhat skewed and unrealistic vision of the world.
In those days of yore, I felt I could get away with anything. I rode my bike at breakneck speeds — forget the knee pads and elbow guards — for if I were to fall, I knew I could just reset. I’d take an extra milk carton from the cafeteria, and if I was caught? I’ll take a Reset, please.
During that golden age, there was never really a situation where I felt like I had to use the reset button.
Just when I thought I had every square inch of life figured out to a T, a day came that waylaid my impetuous notions.
I was 7 years old and had just joined my school’s Little League team. I would play regularly with the neighborhood kids in my cul-de-sac to squeeze a little practice in before the season started.
On one notably gloomy, overcast day, I was playing with one other boy, proudly swinging away with my little aluminum Louisville slugger. The neighborhood reverberated with metallic “plinks” in the wake of each successful hit.
What happened next is a little hazy in my memory, but logic dictates that the other neighbor boy had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
Materialized like a surprise boss.
I dimly recall his face meeting my bat full-on as I took a practice swing. There was no metallic plink with this hit.
I bore no animosity to this boy. Not in the slightest. And as I looked at his crumpled form on the ground, I was very much confused as to what would happen next.
My heartbeat quickened, crescendoing into a full-blown roar in my ears. I couldn’t figure out how to reset the game. And at that singular moment, I realized that life didn’t work like that.
Today, his eye is perfectly fine. I had given him a vicious black eye and in return received his parent’s long-lasting loathing. I can’t blame them. He and I continued as friends afterward, as 7-year-olds tend to forgive one another quite easily. In fact, he wrote on my Facebook wall recently for my birthday.
Life goes on.
I would later come upon a slew of moments in my life where I wanted nothing more than to reset things and do them over again. To take back words I may have said or undo an action.
And honestly, who wouldn’t?
Everyone out there has at least one regret in their life. It may not have been monumental, and it may even turn out to be a blessing in disguise, but as human beings, we don’t always mull things over to the fullest extent before carrying our actions out.
As author Haruki Murakami once wrote: “Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
His statement holds some validity, but regrets don’t necessarily need to pile up like detritus. After all, we know that life doesn’t come with a reset button.
So don’t live your life intending to undo your mistakes, and even if the mistakes are already laid out on the table, don’t worry about them too much. What’s done is done. There is no going back.
As cliché and corny as it may sound, turn your regrets into lessons and give it your absolute best effort to never repeat them again. It may not be the same as a reset button, but it’s the closest thing we’ve got.
ANDREW POH wants to play some baseball, so if you want to hit the batting cages, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.