“If you could go back in the past and change anything, what would you change?”
I remember getting asked that question a lot, and often times could come up with a lengthy list of things that I would change, without a doubt. There are plenty of words I would put back in my mouth, and others that I didn’t say, that I would have, had I known it was my last opportunity. People I would have given more of a chance, and those I could have spared myself from. Not to mention all the bad haircuts. But, growing to be what I’d like to think is wiser over the last few years, I question completely if I would change any of it, even in the smallest capacity.
It’s funny how inspiration can come from anywhere. In this case, my thought wheel began spinning while watching an episode of Star Trek. In the episode, titled, Tapestry, Captain Picard is seriously injured, and on the brink of death. During this time, he is taken on a journey throughout his life and career, and given the opportunity to change moments and situations in which he thinks he failed.
Initially there is an internal battle about toying with the past…
“Surely you must realize that any alteration in this timeline will have a profound impact on the future.”
Yet, alas, when placed in the moment of actually reliving that past, he caves and begins trying to fix his errors. Here he is able to save his adolescent self from the battle that led to him having an artificial heart, the same heart that is failing him as he lies on the table; yet in doing so, he also ruins a friendship and loses respect, and dignity. This change aided in Picard being deemed as more of the cowardly lion than the bold and brave Captain that he would become. In fact, in returning, he’s no longer a captain at all, rather some behind the scenes lieutenant, (Forgive me, I’m not good with these titles, my boyfriend will correct me, no doubt!)
“If you want to get ahead you have to take chances…” this new version of Picard is told, upon realizing that his responsibility is much less now, his job, not as fulfilling.
In experiencing this out of body experience, Captain Picard quickly realizes that his original theory, that past alterations would greatly impact his future, is one that he should have stuck to and followed.
“I would rather die as the man I was than live the life I just saw.”
But, of course, in true television fashion, he doesn’t die. He returns to the life he knew before that experience, coming to the realization that even the terrible things, the mistakes we think we make, end up shaping us, and our futures.
We’ve all had the moments of, “If only I could go back…”
But would you? Is the change of the past worth the change of the future?
Is becoming the person you could have been worth compromising the person that you already are?