Who Wouldn’t Want a Do-Over?

“Wow … to be a kid again and know what I know now !”

What grown-up hasn’t said that to themselves at least once? 

Yes?  No?  … Maybe?

Okay … so … well … maybe it’s just me.  But, my assumption is that almost all of us passed through childhood and is in a state of perpetual clueless-ness.  I’m not sure at what age I finally realized that I didn’t have a clue, but I think it was probably sometime around age 30.   

When I became a “thirty-something” it began to occur to me that I was no longer a kid and I think that’s when I started dwelling on the concept of a “do-over” … to be a 17-year-old kid with a thirty-year-old mind.

Of course this doesn’t happen.  There’s a reason for the adage that “youth is wasted on the young.” 

When I was 17, I was completely blissful in my ignorance.  Even though my state of bliss has dissipated over the years, I still find solace in my conviction that most kids grew up like this.

As a youth, I didn’t know any kids who seemed to be experiencing a “do-over”.  I didn’t know any kids who actually were smarter than adults.  These kids only existed in fiction.

In fact, as an avid reader and aspiring writer, the propensity that authors of fiction have for creating stories featuring children who are smarter than the adults who surround them fascinates me. 

Fictional children are frequently a LOT smarter than I was at that age.

It’s a device that has been used extensively and effectively by authors at least as far back as Mark Twain when he bestowed Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer with adult sensibilities and powers of reason.  More recently,  in her classic “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, Betty Smith imagined her heroine Francie Nolan as a self-reliant child with a level of confidence and determination not found in many 12-year-old girls.  When he wrote “The Client”, John Grisham created the character of Mark Sway, a hard-boiled kid of middle school age, who witnesses a murder and proceeds to outwit both the cops and the mob, only occasionally requiring adult help or guidance.

While neither Huck Finn, nor Francie Nolan, nor Mark Sway would ever grow up needing a “do-over” … I was, and remain a much closer relation to the blissfully clueless Holden Cauldfield in “Catcher in the Rye”.  I’m more kin to the innocent Oliver Twist than his more accomplished acquaintance, the “Artful Dodger”

And in the long run, I may have been closest to Pip in “Great Expectations”, stumbling along toward maturity unaware of what was happening most of the time.  Growing in confidence while making strides toward adulthood, and usually assuming that any gains made were of my own doing, only to realize eventually that the attainment of a certain degree of success should be rightly attributed to my own set of benefactors, both seen and unseen. 

Among my chief benefactors have been my Spiritual Father whose guidance, when heeded has never failed me, and my biological parents by whose  earlier accomplishments, my own potential was quite often generously pre-judged in the estimation of those in a position to have a positive influence on my life.

Finally, I have benefited by the love and confidence of my life-long partner and my best friend … my wife of 40 years, without whom I would not be what I am, nor where I am today.

I’m approaching the stage of life where reflection is a frequent activity and acceptance and appreciation for “the way things turned out” is common emotion.

If I were offered the chance for a “do-over”, I don’t know that I would do very many things differently.  Most of the choices I’ve made have had a way of working out just fine for me and I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. 

So back to my original question … Who wouldn’t want a “do-over”?

Well, for starters … Me

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About Judson

Late bloomer ... aspiring writer and musician.
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12 Responses to Who Wouldn’t Want a Do-Over?

  1. territerri says:

    Not me. But not for the reasons you cited. I was pretty unhappy in my younger years, lacking self-confidence and always wishing I were different than I was. No, I’m much happier just to be who I am now. I wouldn’t want to go back to those painful years.

  2. Judson says:

    Good to hear from you Terri. I think we are what we are because that’s what were meant to be. Sometimes it just takes a long time to come to the surface. As a late bloomer, I say these things with confidence.

    — Judson

  3. herby says:

    I wouldn’t want a do-over either. I’ve just become a thirty-something this past year and I too have just realised that I’m an adult.

    Like Terri I was awkward and unsure in my childhood, adolescence and early twenties. I don’t want a do-over. I wouldn’t do anything differently because my life at 31 is quite lovely. I just want to make sure that I remember to stay young as I grow up from here.

    I love your blog and am always excited to see a new post pop up in my subscriptions. Thank you for writing. 🙂

  4. nrhatch says:

    I would love to go back to high school or college (for a week or so) with my current level of maturity, knowledge, and confidence. Not to do anything over. (I’m happy where I ended up, and who I am is who I want to be.) It would be fun to visit everyone again . . . and take full advantage of a youthful metabolism and energy level.

    A short holiday “back in the day” would be a blast. 🙂

    • Judson says:

      Nancy … a short trip back might be fun. I’ve always had a fascination with time travel. I wanted to be able to witness history first hand (not participate, mind you, LOL) as a spectator. Sort of the proverbial “fly on the wall.”

      —Judson

  5. nrhatch says:

    We traveled back 100 years yesterday. A delight-filled change of pace. http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/time-travel/

  6. lesliepaints says:

    Good post, Judson. I am not naive enough to think that I made more than a few mistakes in my decisions in the past. Had I known, then, what I know now, a few spots would have been smoother. But, I live that, now. We live. We learn. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

    • Judson says:

      Good to hear from you Leslie. I agree that there are probably things that I would change if I had the chance. Still, I suppose you just never know what else might change as a result of reversing a seemingly bad decision. Something good might never happen.

  7. Interesting post, Judson.
    But–I disagree greatly regarding your perceptions of Huckleberry Finn–that’s no children’s story.
    Some people experience long nice childhoods of blissful ignorance–others do not. Experiences –well– experience can be relevatory.
    As for a do-over—hmm—now that requires some serious consideration.

    • Nice to see you again …

      Oh, I agree on Huck. Didn’t mean to imply that the book was actually written for kids. Not at all.

      It’s a very serious story that happens to feature a child who (to me) seems much more advanced in his ability to function in the adult world than I ever was at that age or that most children are. That was my point.

      In some fictional situations, the children seem like they are 12 years old with ability to reason and adapt to situations of a much older person.

      … as if they might be an adult, experiencing a “do-over”. 🙂

      — Judson

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