Every now and then, I think about the possibility of life after this one. Because we have no evidence of which I am aware to confirm our next lives, it makes the greatest amount of sense to live each of the days we have to the best of our strengths and wisdom.
That reality doesn’t prevent me from pondering what I would do differently if I had my life to live again. With the understanding that I can’t do so, I offer some observations about what changes I would make.
For one, my career as a writer/author/editor tells me to write everything down. In the past few days, I was surprised to find that I did so, writing poetry and observations many years before I began publishing them. Our thoughts and adventures are worth recording, for ourselves and those who follow.
Talk less, listen more. As I remind my students, there is a very good reason why we have two ears and one mouth. Maybe I spent too much time demonstrating what I knew, with the consequence of not hearing those facts and thoughts that I didn’t know. And as I reflect on the assertion that I take things personally, perhaps it’s true. But if we don’t take bullying, anti-Semitism and racism personally, nothing changes.
Demonstrate patience whenever possible. Many days I wonder if I had as many career positions as I did because I embraced change, I wanted bigger chances to contribute or I simply needed personal growth. In retrospect, I believe that more patience would have been desirable, both for seeing situations work out to my advantage and that of my employer. Advancement may have been imminent if I had waited.
Seek advice and wisdom, not agreement or validation. In my role as advocate, educator or leader, I am careful to provide opinions rather than imperatives and feel strongly that we should lead by education, not mandate.
Finally, while those who overlook or ignore the past are inevitably going to repeat it, dwelling in it is toxic. We must learn from the mistakes and good decisions, being careful not to commemorate them through endless reiteration. Be selective about your memories, lest they serve to hinder you from treasuring the present and future. Shalom.