By Mark E. Smith
On the surface, my life is one of second chances. In fact, from the moment of my birth, not breathing, resuscitated, then given only hours to live, my life started with a second chance.
As my life went on, second chance after second chance all but saved me from countless perils that could have stopped my life in its tracks. I went from lying on therapy mats in a special school to being mainstreamed in public school; I went from virtually no mobility to having a power chair; I went from moving into a garage to moving into my stepfather’s home; and, I ultimately went from not having a father to being among the most dedicated fathers myself. Indeed, if it wasn’t for second chances, my life would have derailed at so many points.
However, now at mid-life, my experiences and insights have allowed me to realize that second chances don’t truly exist beyond cultural mythology. Life doesn’t offer second chances. We can’t erase where we’ve been, we can’t change what’s happened, and we certainly don’t get do-overs. No, life is a journey, a linier equation, where all that we’ve experienced shapes who we are, where we are – the painful times, the prosperous times, the losses and gains, the tragedies and triumphs all serve a masterful purpose.
The notion of second chances suggests that the firsts were an error, not meant to be. Yet, without whatever came first – the tragedies, the mistakes, the failures, as commonly labeled – we could never have what came next, we could never continue on the journey that makes our lives… well… our lives. And, when we remove the notion of second chances from our beliefs, and value all aspects of our life as a linier journey, it gives meaning to all, turning even the most painful parts of our lives into purposeful, into having reason, into healing and success.
See, if we don’t look at life as second chances, but rather as what’s meant to take time to unfold and come to fruition, it’s impossible to be bitter, resentful or regretful of the past. Instead, we become intrinsically thankful not just of where we are, but likewise where we’ve been. Sometimes life’s journey is not to be questioned, but lived.