Today is the day that I will let you all in on a secret. Think of it as a top-secret of sorts. But first, I would like to tell you all a story. We have all had regrets, both big and small, in our lives. We have all thought ‘what if I had done nearly the opposite of what I have done?’ I am also certain that we all wish for just one chance to change things– just like renovating our homes; it is still our home once it is done, but it has been given a new life. You may renovate your lives, however, life is not like making a post on social media—replete with filters, endless chances to edit your post and even delete it if need be.
What you are about to read now is the epitome of bizarre and dream-like. It was like any other morning—chilly and tranquil. Sweet words of devotion to God woke me up and as I turned off the alarm, I was met by my phone screen, giving me a diabolic smile. My breathing became heavy and my eyes grew big at beholding the frightening sight in front of me. The date on the screen read 5 January 2018. I ran frantically and checked the calendar and other devices. I was indeed in the past. As feelings of confusion and fear overcame me, the notification bell rang from my phone. With trembling hands, I picked up my phone to see a mysterious message without a sender. I knew that there was no way back but to move forward. Opening the message, I beheld the following words: ’24 hours in the real world can be a lifetime here. Change whatever you want to. You shall be sent back when you are done’. Defeated, I plonked myself on the sofa. I needed to digest this ‘reality’.
I could have gone back right then and there but my curiosity to find out what was going on was far greater than any other need. I tried to recall what the significance of that day was and it occurred to me that it was the day I had chosen to drop mathematics in my future academic pursuits. It was a decision towards which I had come to harbour strong feelings of regret. This one decision of mine had quashed my dreams of doing my graduate studies in Australia. By the time I could change things, it was already too late. I then thought that this was not such a bad thing after all. I was being given a rare chance to change my life forever. Only someone cowardly would stand and watch as the opportunity turned the corner and disappeared without leaving a trace. I knew what my future was and I was going to change it.
I no longer felt anxious, rather optimistic and confident. Two years on this fast track would turn my whole life around. I was eager to submit the application form to college once again, but this time, with one major change. I had lived through all the rest before. Writing my grade ten final examinations, having the best holiday time for two whole months after that and enrolling myself for the ISC program where I would now study mathematics. Time passed by rather quickly in this ‘reality’. I was already three months into my study. Mathematics was indeed a challenge and pushed me to the brink. I did not have enough time for myself like I did before. The bounds of my mental capacity were being tested each day. Instead of writing poems in my leisure, I was solving the endless problems of a textbook.
The two years flew by but it had taken blood, sweat and tears to get there. Regardless, I was at the penultimate stepping stone. Starting off on the right foot, I applied to Monash University, my dream college in Australia and before I could blink my eyes twice, I was admitted there too! ‘This one choice really changed my life,’ I thought to myself, overwhelmed with emotions that no words could describe. I was to leave in September which was just a few months away. All kinds of preparations—from documentation to financing and shopping to building connections—were being made with renewed vigour. But obstacles are inherent in all journeys and to my narrow mind, my journey had indeed been smoother than a baby’s skin. What was about to hit me – and the rest of the world—I somehow did not anticipate despite having lived through it in my past.
It had not occurred to me that I was only capable of changing my story; what was destined to be the story of the world was not in my hands to change. What really turned not only mine but also the lives of everyone else around was the coronavirus. At its onset in that ‘reality’, I knew where things would go in a few months’ time. I had seen it all before. In such uncertain times, I would not be able to go to Australia. It was both extremely risky and practically not feasible. I could not waste any more of my time and energy there. Taking a deep breath, I picked up my phone and scrolled down to that cursed message I had received on that fateful day. With a dejected heart, I typed in the words ‘I’m done’ and hit send. Within the next few minutes, I was hit by a heavy drowsiness that I could not resist. I was forced to give in to that strange force. I was in deep sleep yet completely conscious. It was like being in a trance and when I embraced it, it was surprisingly meditative. I do not know for how long I was in that strange state. But the thoughts that overcame my mind were words of wisdom that one earns during an entire lifetime. I was beginning to understand why I was given such an opportunity to do-over my life. If I had been naïve and immature earlier, this ‘reality’ unknowingly taught me many things that I perhaps would not have learnt otherwise and new-fashioned me- just like that renovated home.
Getting a chance for a do-over is like strapping yourself into a time machine and not looking back- well technically looking back but only to look forward (the paradox is high on this one). But there are more things outside our control than within. Even if you do get a chance for a do-over, you cannot change the circumstances into which you were born. Living life with the wisdom that we can control only our actions and reactions will make us realise that we do not need a do-over. Yes, you might want to go back into your childhood and have more fun. You might want to go back to your teen years and better equip yourself for adulthood. You might want to go back and take more chances in life and worry less. There are endless things that we would do differently. But we have learnt so much by those very so-called mistakes that we want to go back and change. Don’t think about changing what has already passed you. In thinking about what could have been, you are losing your present- that very present which is the only thing still in your hands. Look forward to the future for each day is a chance for a do-over in itself. No one can live a picture-perfect life from day one. But in utilising your rich experiences to enhance your future, you will see how far you have come. Where is the growth in doing everything right from day one. Where is the learning? Instead, it would be monotonous and quite boring to live a life without any ups and downs. As much as we are extremely curious to know how different things would be if we had done things differently, I am sure that ‘different’ in no way means flawless or perfect.
As I opened my eyes, I knew deep within my heart that I was back for good and that everything was fine. I would now live my life with a wondrous truth to guide me. I know that I can’t change the past. I know that the world won’t change for me but instead that I need to change myself and adapt to the world. But that day was unexpectedly very eventful. It was the day that I found a rare gem of wisdom. It was the day from when I would make the best of every situation that I would be faced with. It was the day that I was REBORN.
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