Someone asked the question on a technical forum recently, “If you could go back in time and change the events in your life, would you?”
It’s a good question. My answer:
This is a question I’ve wrestled with quite often.
If I could go back and change some of the things in my past, I could no doubt spare myself–and others–a great deal of pain and regret.
However, I’m not completely convinced that it would be worthwhile to do so.
Aside from the philosophical issue that having a life free from pain is not necessarily a desireable goal, there’s the simple matter that the person I am right now is the result of the accumulation of experiences, good and bad, that have shaped and developed me and the way I see the world–and I like the person I am right now.
The parts of my life which have been the most painful–failed relationships, poor decisions–have also been the parts of my life where I have learned the strongest lessons about how to live my life the way I want to live it and how to seek happiness for myself and those i love without doing so at the expense of others. I would not choose to erase those lessons–not for any reason whatsoever, certainly not just to spare myself some pain.
Pain is a part of life. If you never hurt, you never feel. To wish for a life free from pain is to wish not to be alive at all.
The biggest regrets I have are not about times where I’ve been hurt, but rather about times where I have hurt other people. If I could change the things I have done which have hurt others without losing the value I have gained from those experiences, i might choose to do so, but I doubt it–who am I to judge the lessons those people have learned from those experiences? And is it any more realistic to desire a life where you never cause pain for anyone else, directly or indirectly, than it is to wish for a life free from pain yourself?