There’s one thing I love about video games. How much I can play without having to pay for each play. I grew up in the age of 3 lives cost 25 cents ( a quarter). I used to save every quarter from any change I would have, usually from buying take out. On the weekend, instead of doing my homework, I would race to the Mac’s convenience store across the street and play Dragon’s Lair. It was this video game that was a cartoon. It was really well done actually. You would have to navigate through the game in real time. The game would unfold rapidly and you would have to fight the urge to watch the cartoon. It took about 20$ until you could train yourself to concentrate on the hints the game would give you to beat any given scene. The game would actually light up the area in which you would have to move to. For example; the main character (Dirk) would be walking down a corridor and on the right a skeleton would pop out and you would see the left side light up and flash, that would mean to push the controller over to the left, you usually had about 2 seconds to react, sometimes less. Dirk would jump to the left and then the game would continue. if you didn’t hit it fast enough or hit it towards the wrong side, the game would play a horrific death scene, it was actually very amusing. This was also still the age of ACME anvils falling on unsuspecting coyotes. Before some special interest parenting group said, “If my child watches anvils hitting coyotes he will want to hurt animals.” Sorry I digress….
Fast forward to the age of video consoles and there is no need to save every quarter for the weekend journey to the store. You have something even better. The reset button. This is why I think modern parenting has lost touch. How is a video game even remotely the same as real life? If I mess up, I can’t reset the day. I grew up with violent video games and I knew never, NEVER, to hurt anyone. My character would die in this bloody mess at the bottom of some hole and the screen would materialize the words “YOU ARE DEAD”. All I learned was never to try to jump a hole that I could never see the bottom. Oh I forgot to mention, my parents actively monitored my playing time, I mean to say, the amount of time I got to play. Lazy parenting has created these mindless unmotivated children. I said “no” to my parents once when they asked me to turn off the console and they raced over to the wall and ripped out the power cord. I stared at my mother in disbelief. I never got to save it!! My mother never said another word. I only got one chance. Really wish I could reset that moment. But gee, it was life, not a game.
I can think of a dozen or so memories that I would love to “reset” and start again. It’s not regret. It’s knowing from experience that certain scenarios would work out better if I had made a wiser decision. People say, but that’s what makes you who you are. I agree, major decisions affect you in ways you can’t imagine until later down the road in a crossroad of life when you come upon a decision that seems like, oh I don’t know, deja vu. You know and feel like you have been there before. But I say this, there are those moments in the past that I wish I could reset. Saying “Fuck you” to your dear friend that was dieing of cancer. Can anyone really tell me that saying something just as frustrating but not so cold and insulting, wouldn’t have been better?
Regret is a very self-pitying way of looking at the past. Regret has nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. Empathy is about others.
“I’m so sorry that children are suffering.”
You get my point. So where am I going with this? I want to share a moment in life that I always wanted to reset.
I met the love of my life when I was 16. We dated in the summer, because she lived in a different country. I would go visit family every summer and we met through a group of mutual friends. She effected my life so strongly that any relationship I was in after I would always compare them to her. I always saw the end of any relationship after 2 weeks, simply because they weren’t her.
Fast forward 27 years and I am back in her country, sitting in her kitchen catching up. I am finding we have lived almost identical lives and our out look on life is very much the same. I am looking at her and I can’t shake the feeling that I have always felt. I always wanted to tell her I loved her and that I always will. I was 18 and I left without telling her I would come back and I didn’t want her to wait but I didn’t want her to forget. My mind was racing. I stared at her and we talked about everything. I mean we talked about EVERYTHING. That moment and that space was exactly where I wanted to be. Here it is the quiet moment, we both didn’t have something to say. I was ringing my hands tighter and tighter and I looked up, she was staring at me. I swallowed and yelled in my mind to speak,
“So what time does your flight leave?” she interrupted.
“Just before noon, but I have to be there 2 hours before, I already reserved my seats.” relieved and frustrated that I couldn’t tell her. Another chance wasted.
“Well that’s good.” she said quietly.
I stared at the tea she prepared for me. The cup half empty, I wanted to crawl into it.
“You know…” she started.
“Ya?” I looked up, thankful she interrupted that thought.
“I never forgot you.” she said it with such calm and courage. I smiled at her, mostly out of shock, but I was relieved. I will never want to reset what I said next….
“I want you to know that ever since I saw you for the very first time, I was in love with you. It sucked that it was long distance for us. I just want you to know I never stopped loving you. I don’t expect anything from you, I’m not asking you for anything. I just want you to know wherever you go and whatever you do, I will love you for it. I don’t need you to love me back, my love for you will always live inside of me.” I stopped because my nerves had dried out my mouth. I sipped my cold half empty mug of tea. It was the best under sweetened tea I had ever tasted.
“Every time I see you, I get confused, I didn’t know until just now why I felt that way. I have never forgotten you because you were so good to me. I don’t feel like you left me.” she soothed my guilt for abandoning her. We continued talking about life and laughing. I forgot to tell you, we really know how to laugh.
Before I left that night we kissed and she whispered,
“I love you.”
I walked away after kissing her and looked back and said,
“I’m coming back for you. Every year, I will come to see you. I promise.”
So, do I regret anything from my past? Absolutely not. Yeah, I would love to reset some moments . But life sometimes does play out like a video game and it gives you that moment where you find yourself face to face with a second chance that you never thought you would ever have again. I had to make the decision though. I decided to put in that quarter and have my second chance.