From the archives …
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If you are looking for a great read, I highly recommend Stephen King’s latest novel entitled 11/22/63. To WAY oversimplify the story of this nearly 850 page novel, it is about an English teacher in Maine who’s friend’s diner has a rabbit hole to the past. It becomes this time traveler’s mission to change the course of history by stopping Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. If you enjoy Stephen King’s work as I do you know that things are no where near that direct. There are plenty of sub-plots, story lines, and wonderful writing to easily keep the reader engrossed. Just make sure that you give yourself the time to enjoy it.
One of the lessons learned from this book is the old adage, be careful you might get what you ask for. So as not to ruin things for future readers of this great book, I’ll just say that even with the most noblest of intentions, even if we could go back and change things, even just one thing, the past may be best left that way – as the past.
I’m returning to Florida this weekend for the first time since we’ve moved. And by the way, congratulations to Richard and his long time partner Pam. I am so very honored to officiate at their wedding! At any rate, I spent over half my life in the Sunshine State. Some of the most wonderful times of my life happened while living there. Conversely, some of the most difficult things in my life occurred there as well. I was finishing King’s novel, and allowed myself some fantasy thinking. If I went back in time and could change one thing, what would it be? Would it be stopping an injustice or some terrible accident from happening? Would it be to do something differently knowing that one little waiver in my actions would have led to a better outcome? Or would it be going back even further in time, and changing some decisions that I made that would have a direct impact on my needing a liver transplant many years later in 2010?
Many of us who have experienced organ failure recognize that life style issues were at least contributing factors. We all go through times when we think if I only knew then what I know now, then maybe I wouldn’t be in this health crisis. The key word is “maybe” and then, at what expense.
Let me give you an example. What would my life had been if I listened to some of the influences in my life back then, and did not go to seminary. My guess is my lifestyle would have continued in the hard party lane for a while. But I was getting over that at the time anyway. So maybe I would have gotten sick a lot earlier. Or maybe not. I know people by the name of Matt, Tanya, and Kimmi (my kids) wouldn’t be here. Probably would have never met some of the most incredible people in the world, the greatest loss being Sandra. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the honor that it is to walk with people in the most difficult times they would experience. Maybe some of those peoples’ lives would have gone different directions without me. Maybe. Or maybe I would have eventually made it to seminary and maybe my career with my previous employer would not have been cut short by my getting sick. Maybe I’d still be there and wouldn’t have had to have a liver transplant. But then, would we ever have had the chance to discover how great Nashville is and have the opportunity to have discussions with you? Maybe not.
My point is simply this – since becoming sick and facing the very real potential of my life ending, and then being saved by an organ donor and his family that I may never know anything about, I decided my life, as it is, is pretty dang terrific. I, like all of us, have made some very great decisions. I, like all of us, have made some really bad decisions that have not only hurt me, but more importantly, others. Would I like to fix those? I don’t know. When the dominoe effect of time kicks in, no one knows.
So, I’m leaving tomorrow for Florida and for the first time in over thirty years I’ll be one of those damn tourists. I’ll see some family and friends. I’ll see places I’ve lived, worked, and played. And after I get Pam and Richard married, I’ll come back home to Nashville. And that evening we’re going to a new friend’s home for dinner, to meet even more new people. Take it from someone who for awhile believed I truly had no time, there is no time like the present! I don’t want a do-over.