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Passions in Poetry

If you could change only one thing....

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hush
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since 05-27-2001
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0 posted 11-17-2001 01:40 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I hear the question "If you could change only one thing about your past what would it be, and why?"

The assumption made by this question bugs me.

My question is: If you could change one thing about your past would you? Why?

I wouldn't. I value who I am... I have flaws... big ones... but we all do... and perfection is boring. Erasing a negative event erases part of what made me who I am, and what is constantly adding to that. A good Ani DiFranco lyric is "I am a work in progress"... and I think that's true of myself, and probably of all people- to remove part of the foundation detracts from my beauty as is, as well as the eventual product.

Is there an eventual product? Would changing part of your past impact that too greatly?

I'm overcomplicating and going on a tangent....

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

Sunshine
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1 posted 11-17-2001 08:26 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine


You're overcomplicating, perhaps...so I'm simplifying it to say, think

"It's a Wonderful Life"

and then ask the question again.  While I am sure there are times people would love to be able to go back and do something right in the place of a mistake, the ripple effect of that change would be tremendous.

Perhaps it is just a matter of thinking things through before acting, instead of reacting to situations.

We [or for the most part, most of we] all hope to do our best, day by day.

Ron
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2 posted 11-17-2001 09:06 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum29/HTML/000050.html#9



Brad
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3 posted 11-17-2001 05:09 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I'm not sure what you're trying to get at.

Are you arguing against self-reflection?

I don't think perfection is an option but I see nothing wrong with speculation.

Couldn't your own sense of satisfaction (with the good and bad, with the beauty) also be seen as still another form of complacency, a complacency that hinders the 'work in progress'?

I like the term by the way.

It's what Joyce called Finnegan's Wake in the initial stages.

Brad
serenity blaze
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4 posted 11-17-2001 09:29 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I think a better question is, "if you could change one thing about your present situation, what would it be, and what's stopping you?"  THAT'S THE ONE THAT REALLY ANNOYS ME...  
Duncan
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5 posted 11-17-2001 11:11 PM       View Profile for Duncan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Duncan

'Erasing a negative event erases part of what made me who I am'

Exactly.
I, also, am very accepting of self.  However, there is an event that I would change, if it were within my power.  Why?  Because I am not who I was prior to it.  I will never become who that person would have been.  And I believe that person would have been happier.
hush
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6 posted 11-18-2001 12:58 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Brad-

'Are you arguing against self-reflection?'

LOL, of course not. I'm not saying that I don't ask myself the first question, and that I don't have a hundred different answers for it. My problem is that it works under a debateable premise.

'Couldn't your own sense of satisfaction (with the good and bad, with the beauty) also be seen as still another form of complacency, a complacency that hinders the 'work in progress'?'

I don't remember saying anything about being satisfied. Valuing my self and being satisfied with it are two vastly different things, in my opinion. I am never satisfied with any one thing for too long, because I fear the exact kind of complacency you mention.

On the other hand- do you think we should continually tear ourselves up about the past, and what we wish we could change? A person can recognize mistakes and the need to avoid making them in the future and still come to terms with and accept themselves with that in mind. It's not complacency, it's a sense of self-worth.

Ron-

Well put... but do you think that because life is short, and we can't have it all, that one should't go back and cahnge something if that possibility ever presented itself?

Duncan-

I don't know... I personally value my unhappiness- it makes me appreciate the happiness more. But, that's a personal thing, I guess.

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

serenity blaze
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7 posted 11-18-2001 02:17 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Dunc? I think we should attempt reparation wherever and whenever possible...after all, all we think? Is all we think. Not such a big deal after all.   It's just what it is.
What we think.
cherish
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8 posted 11-18-2001 05:49 AM       View Profile for cherish   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for cherish

"Erasing a negative event erases part of what made me who I am"

youve said it hush . i dont think i could go back and change any part of any event- good or bad. what pulls you through when youre down is a lesson in itself. i would hate to go through life without learning it.

       

  

BUM!


Brad
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9 posted 11-18-2001 07:06 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

No, I don't think there's much value in dwelling on the decision you've made in the past or blaming that decision for whereever you are now.

But I see a lot of value in speculation.

Perhaps we agree here but the premise that everyone seems to assume is that you would still be here. If the decision were important enough to consider changing, there's every reason to believe that you wouldn't be here, it would set you off on a different trajectory.

And so you'd be asking yourself the reverse of what you're asking now.

If anything, I think it's just a way to make you realize the contingency of the world and the beauty, not of yourself, but of the world.

Brad

PS Sorry about the 'satisfaction'/'self-value' thing. It's just I've never been able to figure out what people mean by that. Value is a relational concept to me.
Moon Dust
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10 posted 11-19-2001 02:00 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

I think if I went back and changed something say like  even if it was a dision like should I make friend with someone who has no friends. That being said if I didnt I would remain being shallow like everyone around me and probably give no one but me a second thought. But if I did I would have learned to except people for who they are, that everyone in unqiue and had something to give.

So what I'm saying is I wouldn't change anything in the past even bad expreances as well as good beacuse I would think the way I do beacuse I would be more shallow, be more stuck up maybe or I might be a completely different person good or bad. But the past has made me who I am and I couldnt change it if I wanted to. If I hurt someone I'm sorry but if I hadn't happen to hurt them and hadnt seen it I could have carried on hurting people and being olivious to it with many more people. So I totally agree with hush.

I breathe the dust, the dust is me.


[This message has been edited by Moon Dust (edited 11-19-2001).]

hush
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since 05-27-2001
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Ohio, USA


11 posted 11-19-2001 11:31 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Brad-

'If the decision were important enough to consider changing, there's every reason to believe that you wouldn't be here, it would set you off on a different trajectory.'

That's sort of what I'm trying to say, in a more personal sense. If you change a past event, that affects who you are today. If it impacts who you are now enough, it also impacts where you are. So yes, we agree.  

'And so you'd be asking yourself the reverse of what you're asking now.'

I don't understand what the reverse is? Is it whether you could change something about the present via the past? Or just skip the bit about the past and go ahead and change the present? If that were the case though, it would take some of the interesting guesswork out of changing the past... it would take all the surprise out of Fate. It's like peeking at your Christmas presents.

That's too boring.  

But maybe that's not at all what your saying the opposite is?

But... supposing we could change our pasts... If someone was found innocent of murder, but then went back to the past and committed that murder, and came back to the present, would they still be innocent? Or would the entire procession of that person's life have become unrecognizeable?

If time travel were possible... (and I really hope we don't get into some big metaphysics debate because I am nowhere near ready for that one)... just supposing it was, should it be illegal? If we could go back and prevent the Holocaust, should we? If we could prevent 9-11, should we?

I say no. I might say yes if I were a Jew or a fireman's wife.

"this is not who I meant to be
this is not how I meant to feel" -Ani DiFranco

Brad
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Jejudo, South Korea


12 posted 11-22-2001 01:53 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

What would it be like to be a different "I"?

I don't think it would be much different in that if you had the opportunity to change something in your life (and I limit that to what you can control), you wouldn't have the knowledge that you have now. So, for example, if someone gave you money to go to Japan right out of college and you decide to go, you wonder what would have happened if you hadn't gone. Of course, if you hadn't gone, then the question would be what might have happened if you had.

Or is that you actually me?  

Really,  I think time travel would be along the same lines. We're still stuck in the human condition (whatever that is) and can't experience two lives at once.

But we can imagine.  

Brad

Ron
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13 posted 11-22-2001 10:38 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Many years ago, I wrote a short story about a mid-thirtyish guy who had just been dumped by his wife of ten years. A mathematician and scientist, Bernard was ruled by cause-and-effect and he convinced himself that, if he could only discover WHY she stopped loving him, he would be able to reverse the damage. At what point in time does love turn to disdain?

To learn the answer, Bernard used recent advances he'd made to travel back in time, not physically (which was impossible), but as a "Silent Ghost" (the name of the story). He could observe, without restriction, but could not in any way influence.

Going back a few months, Bernard overheard his wife talking to a girlfriend, and her remarks about him were much less than kind. Not far enough. Back farther, only to watch as his wife coldly manipulated him to get her own selfish way. Over and over, Bernard traveled into the past, looking for the precise moment, the exact event when his wife stopped loving him. Only to eventually realize she had NEVER loved him the way he imagined she did. The woman he thought he knew, the woman he so loved, never really existed except within his own mind.

Heinlein, needless to say, did it much better. One of his early short stories (circa 1941) was called "By His Bootstrap." The protagonist goes through a series of difficult, often dangerous, incidents, and in each instance miraculously saves himself based on advice from a mysterious, and often cantankerous, stranger. As the story progresses, the protagonist finds it necessary to use time travel to visit the past and warn his younger self of a problem, and by the end of the story we realize that EVERY character we've seen is the same person, at different times in his life. He essentially solves his own problems by telling himself how he already did it.

In other stories, we are introduced to alternate time-lines, where changing the past produces diverging forks in the road and multiple instances of "reality" continue moving forward. Other writers have shown that changing the past automatically changes the present, but without ANY possible way of knowing the change took place. The "you" you remember from yesterday and today didn't even exist until someone changed something in your past, and were it to change again, you would still be reading this and think "you" would never want to be anyone different. In the Superman comics of the fifties and early-sixties, a recurring theme was the Man of Steel traveling into the past - to try to save Lincoln, to prevent the sinking of the Titanic, et cetera - only to inevitably find himself thwarted by silly little coincidences that prevented the past from being changed (he usually caused the very thing he was trying to prevent).

The possible ways to interact through time are pretty much endless, and I think very few of them would require us to simultaneously live two lives at once. We can observe, we can communicate, we can create new "instances" of ourselves, all without necessarily destroying who we are.

In a very real sense, I think changing the past is little different from changing the future. How would your life be different today if you had avoided that certain relationship in your past? Surely, you would be a different you. But if you think of time as a singularity, rather than a continuum, how is that any different than asking what your life will be like tomorrow if you make a change in plans tonight? Surely, you will be a different "you" tomorrow if you go right tonight instead of moving left. Whether you change the past to arrive at a different present, or change the present to arrive at a different future, you necessarily change the intrinsic "you."

Indeed, if you step outside the flow of time for a moment, if you can manage to look at it through eyes not conditioned by human limitations, you quickly realize that the present "you" with which you're perhaps happy is also part of your future self's past. Just as that past self and the events you don't want to change were once your own present.

Past, presence, and future are all relative and ultimately, interchangeable.

Deciding you would never change the past, because you already like who "you" are. is no different than refusing to change the present for the same reason.

And perhaps therein lie the answer to your question (or, at least, my answer to it).

You cannot NOT change your present. Your only choice is to make conscious decisions and shoot for a better future "you," or refuse to make the decisions and accept the defaults thrown in your path. Of course, not making a decision is still a decision, and in any case, the "you" of tomorrow will be different. Perhaps better. Perhaps not. Stagnation simply isn't a possibility, nor should it be part of the deliberation. Liking the "you" of today isn't enough. You have to like the "you" of tomorrow, too, and that always requires choices. Knowing that, at least on some gut level, most of us try to make decisions that will lead to differences we will like. Sadly, we're not always successful.

I think, were it possible to change the past, you would essentially be faced with the same situation. Make a decision or accept the defaults. Erase a negative event in your past and you will have changed the present "you," leading to a new future "you." Refuse to erase the negative event, and you will STILL have changed the future "you." Perhaps for the better. Perhaps not.

Changing the past would ultimately boil down to cost/benefit and be little different than the decisions we already make every day regarding the present. If I return to school tomorrow I could learn more, perhaps fulfill a dream, but the cost would be a lot of hard work and lost time that could maybe be put to other uses. If I eliminate that first marriage of yesteryear I could avoid a lot of needless pain, but at the cost of not having the three children that define my life. Whether I return to school or not should rely on benefits versus costs, though in truth the decision is always affected by other considerations as well. I suspect whether I would change the past marriage would be no different. Benefits versus costs, with a whole lot of those other considerations still thrown into the pot, too. A decision to change or not change, whether in the past or present, WILL change the future me.

Sadly, I doubt many of us would be any wiser in changing our past than we usually are in changing our present. But that wouldn't eliminate the need to try.
timothysangel1973
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14 posted 12-06-2001 02:20 AM       View Profile for timothysangel1973   Email timothysangel1973   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit timothysangel1973's Home Page   View IP for timothysangel1973

Wow...
A great topic HUSH...

I hear people say that sort of thing all the time and I think to myself, "what is it in us as human beings that compell us to think about that"

Even if you could change it, chances of finding someone like the Doc in Back to the Future and him also having a Delorian for you to use in order to change the events in your life are slim to none.

However on the same note, it is only natural for us to reflet on our life and wish that we had made different choices or decisions.

It is the choices that we make in a situation that reflect the outcome of where we are now.

Would I change some of the choices I made?  

ABSOLUTELY
WITHOUT A DOUBT

I would like to think now that I am a little older and a little wiser, and yes changing the choices would change the outcome, and the outcome would change the point of view that I hold now about that event in my life.

However, I think that had certain things not happened to me in my life then I would not be where I am now.

I think that as humans we sub-consciously filter the events of our lives into categorys.
For instance I remember well all of the bad choices that I have made, so that the next time a similar situation rolls around I can try and make a better choice.

Now, is this to say that I would change one thing about my life, if I could I would change many.  But the reality is that I can only shape my future, I am not allowed to re-shape my past.

I beleive that regrets are as personal as fingerprints.

We all have them.
That is the funny thing about the past, it's memory will forever live inside of us, but our ability to change it is pretty much slim to none.

God Bless everyone!!!


There is no agony like bearing and untold story inside you.
Zora Neale Hurston

One sad thing about this world is that the acts that take the most

[This message has been edited by timothysangel1973 (edited 12-06-2001).]

 
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