On do-overs

While visiting childhood haunts this past summer, returning to a town I haven’t lived in for almost thirty years, I was assailed by a series of memories that left me wanting a do-over or two. Nostalgia is a terrible thing. If you don’t remember the do-over, it was a special anti-mulligan that gave you grace after something went wrong in the game you were playing. Perhaps it was a pitch behind you, or an extra at-bat or just a repeat of a situation that went wrong, maybe a fourth strike. How many times since our childhoods have we needed a do-over? I think it is an inherent part of the human condition to do everything wrong: pick the wrong job, eat the wrong food, choose the wrong car, date the wrong person, and all the while it seemed like we were doing the right thing. It’s as if as children we understand the falibility of the human condition, so we make amends by invoking the do-over. Unfortunately, as adults, we cannot invoke the do-over and must live with all of our mistakes. We desperately need the do-over, but all we can do is lament our terrible decision making from hindsight, which cruelly hangs the correct decision in front us as if we were Tantalus staring at those unobtainable apples, that unreachable water. We hunger for a perfect life filled with perfect decisions, but we have to live with what we have, no do-overs allowed.