If there were a time machine…


Frankly I don’t look back much of the past I’d stepped on to arrive where I am now. I do fill myself with satisfaction derived from choices I’ve made in my life, and also I do know returning back to the past wouldn’t make such dramatic changes. But surely as one of many, I daydream. I daydream out of regrets that I had in the past and out of expectations I have toward the future. I daydreamed once asking myself if there were a time machine and I could go back to the past, what would I tell the young-version of myself? This young boy would be quite anxious of exams, heartbroken of farewells, or depressed of insecurity for future. Every time I daydream of this imaginary time machine, I reach to the same conclusion; that this is the very right and righteous moment so cherish this moment.

Turning into 30, I know that it’s not a severe problem getting grade of 6 instead of 10 (out of 10). I know that it’s not fatal to have a month of unemployment. I know now that it’s not small waves but a big tide which has brought me here where I am now. I didn’t know this back then, but I do know now. How anxious I was being unemployed counting dollars for the next month’s payment. How anxious I was staying up at night to make the deadline. Since there’s yet a time machine available, I cannot give a fragment of life advices to the young-version of me. Instead, there are people who lived before me. The word ‘Teacher’ in oriental languages literally means ‘the one who lived before(先生)’, irrelevant of the act of teaching. They have guided me as a beam of light. Surely they were all imperfect, so this guidance never was in perfect moment, perfect form, or in perfect manner. As I become older each day, I also see myself putting seeds where I stepped behind. Would this act be considered as kindness one day? Would those seeds be served as a narrow beam of light for one person?

Here I wanted to share what we regret most when we become older, and in each advice I wanted to share my personal experience, if any.

  1. Not travelling when you had the chance: I have met the most wonderful and beautiful people while travelling.
  2. Not learning another language: Learning Spanish for example, broadened the range of people with whom I can communicate ideas and share emotions.
  3. Staying in a bad relationship: Romanticising a bad relationship is an outcome of television dramas, I believe. My life hasn’t been boring so I didn’t need more drama.
  4. Forgoing sunscreen.
  5. Missing the chance to see your favourite musicians: Sing out loud your favourite band on the street, and in the concert shouting a same song you love all together with people around gets you amazed.
  6. Being scared to do things: There is a saying ‘It’s not the height you are afraid of. It’s the falling you are afraid of.’ But think one more, it’s the falling part in roller-coaster that you recall to enjoy the most.
  7. Failing to make physical fitness a priority: Doesn’t have to be a muscular figure but a funcional body will do, and this should be the very goal.
  8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles: Men must cry, as women must be empowered. If this is uncomfortable for you being labelled gay or feminist, you’d have a tough life being criticised in this 21st century.
  9. Not quitting a terrible job: In this neoliberal world that we are living in, sadly, we get a job just to quit and move on for the next level.
  10. Not trying harder in school: It’s not about getting a higher grade. It’s about learning what really interests me. I know that it’s never late to start learning new things but it would have been better if I had read more poems, or scientific articles that really were in my field of study.
  11. Not realising how beautiful you were: Every art is beautiful, so are we. Criticism comes from those who don’t have the capacity to see the beauty because they have a limited perspective toward beauty. It’s their problem not yours.
  12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”: Those three words I’ve said too much but never enough. To my friends, to my brothers and family and especially, to my beloveds. It’s the time you contributed in them that you love. The more time you spend with them you love them more, along with loving your own self.
  13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.
  14. Spending your youth self-absorbed: Inputs are everywhere and elsewhere than from inner side. The more external inputs one intakes the beautiful outputs one lays internally.
  15. Caring too much about what other people think: They all care themselves caring what others might think of them. Let’s break the link.
  16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own: From your envy comes their fame.
  17. Not moving on fast enough: One month should be long enough even if the relationship lasted 10 years. It’d be hard of course, but staying in the past I’ve lost more what was happening for the present and future.
  18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.
  19. Not standing up for yourself: I also realised that telling everyone who I am,  how I think and what I want is a fast way to get respect from others too.
  20. Not volunteering enough.
  21. Neglecting your teeth.
  22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.
  23. Working too much.
  24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal: What plate you would be if you were a food?
  25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.
  26. Failing to finish what you start.
  27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.
  28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations: Generalising one’s behaviour assuming his cultural background limits one’s capacity to fully understand others. It’s not about being smart knowing how people do in other culture, but about being unwise encaging others in one’s box of thoughts. Everything is an adventure.
  29. Refusing to let friendships run their course: If you are not losing friends, you’re not growing up.
  30. Not playing with your kids enough.
  31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).
  32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.
  33. Worrying too much.
  34. Getting caught up in needless drama.
  35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.
  36. Never performing in front of others: This implies that I never put efforts to learn an instrument.
  37. Not being grateful sooner.

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