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July 01 • Re-Don't

Day 723

The gospel according to Star Trek, is probably not the most credible way to start a journal entry, but I do believe that art reflects our society and our spiritual conditions. Sometimes ah-ha moments show up in the strangest places, often as mirrors disguised as windows into the lives of fantastical characters.

I just finished watching an old episode of The Next Generation entitled Tapestry. From the fifteenth show of the sixth season, it starts with Captain Picard dying. The inimitable and immortal Q shows up and gives the captain a chance to go back and fix some of his youthful indiscretions. He got a redo on his regrets.

George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life learned that if he had never been born, many good things would never have happened to his family and friends. Picard learned that many of the good things that happened in his life were the results of those moments he most regretted. Both depictions have their positive messages for people who need to find a little grounding in their present. Today I'm drawn to TNG's story of hope, mostly because of the issues I deal with, and that I wrote about two days ago (June 29th) involving regret.

In short, I would certainly accept an opportunity to go back and make different decisions, both as a child and as an acting-out sex addict. I would be willing to put everything I am and everything I have at risk not to have to live with the shame and pain that I have inflicted on myself and others. That is a no-brainer.

When Captain Picard took that path and corrected what he thought were unnecessary and stupid mistakes, he returned to his present begging Q to reset everything to the timeline of his death. What he found after playing with his past was not the changes in results in the lives of the people he loved; he didn't like the changes in himself:

"I'd rather die as the man I was than live the life I just saw. There were many parts of my youth that I am not proud of. There were... loose threads, untidy parts of me that I would like to remove. But when I pulled on one of those threads, it unraveled the tapestry of my life."

Okay, stop. It's a freaking TV show, and science fiction at that; I get it. But as art often does, it offers hope to situations that seem hopeless. Not because theater can actually change anything in our lives, but because it can make us see or dream beyond hopelessness, and hope is always the beginning of better. Long before the 12 Steps helped me in any tangible way, they gave me the hope that I could be helped.

When I was a kid, I had an obnoxious habit of correcting people who had just had something seemingly bad happen to them.

"You're better off," I would opine, "because if you hadn't gotten grounded for looking at your daddy's girlie mags, you probably would have been playing football with us. There you would have broken your leg, and then the ambulance would have wrecked on the way to the hospital, breaking your other leg..."

and other inane justifications for things being what they are.

I am not claiming that any of this has changed me or should be seriously considered in the context of recovery. However, thinking about these things has given me the slightest hope that maybe I am the best version of myself that life could ever have given me, either despite or because of the abhorrent things I have done. That does not justify nor give me a pass on stupidity, but it just might be true.

Is this the beginning of 'not regretting the past?' I don't yet know, but wouldn't that be grand!




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