“I want to go back in time and do this over.”

That was my response recently when careless inattention caused me to miss one of the most important events of my life. Fortunately, I woke up from the dream I was having, and realized I hadn’t actually missed anything at all.

The event was my son’s upcoming wedding. In my dream, it was the day of the wedding and my daughters – I had two in my dream – were out swimming in a neighborhood pool. I suddenly realized it was 20 minutes before the wedding was to take place.

In a panic, I called the girls in. We all got cleaned up and dressed in record time, but by the time I drove to the location of the wedding, everything was over – the wedding, the reception, the greetings and the goodbyes. The bride and groom were long gone, and only a few people were still there.

“Do you want anything?” one of them asked me as I looked around at the remains of the festivities.

“Yes,” I said, realizing I had missed my own son’s wedding because I wasn’t paying attention to the time. “I want to go back in time and do this over.”

I was relieved when I woke up and discovered it was just a dream. Still, it was one that stayed with me, that haunted me, and that made me wonder, “Where did THAT come from? And what was it trying to tell me?”

There are plenty of books, movies, and TV shows about people going back in time, trying to prevent things like World War II, the assassination of Lincoln, or a lab experiment that results in a contagious virus with the power to destroy mankind. This is science fiction on a grand scale, but I’m pretty sure we all have some words or actions we wish we could go back and do over. Not because they had global or catastrophic implications, but because they hurt, damaged, or limited us – or others – in some way, or because they kept us from something important we could have done or taken part in.

My dream may have been my subconscious mind’s way of telling me I’ve got too many things going on right now, and that some of the lesser ones are distracting me – or in danger of distracting me – from the more important ones.  It might have been a gentle nudge to do a better job of setting priorities. Or it could have simply been a reminder to pay closer attention to what I’m doing and what’s going on around me.

I don’t think we should spend a lot of time dwelling on what we could have, would have, or should have done differently in our lives. Learning from our mistakes is important, but not obsessing over them. Instead, I think we should use everything we’ve learned and done in the past to forge a better future. If we do, we’ll likely end up with fewer experiences we wish we could go back and do over, and more experiences that we’ll want to do again.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 24, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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