The past several weeks, I haven’t been able to write.
Life comes at us fast. The unexpected routinely comes straight at our faces, knocking us out, while still managing to somehow be “unexpected.”
This time, something knocked me out that was totally expected.
You know about this, right? That stuff you can see coming for miles, but in spite of your best efforts, you can’t seem to miss it?
What took me out this time didn’t sneak up on me here. I saw it coming. It came straight up my gun sights.
Then it unexpectedly accelerated and closed the gap which meant that I ran out of the space I needed to complete my evasive maneuvers.
This super sucked.
In spite of my shock and grief, I actually started out processing all of this well enough. (Bonus points awarded for personal growth here.)
I learned an important lesson. Regret is often misunderstood, but it doesn’t need to be. It can actually be a useful time travel vehicle that carries us safely back in time so we can learn from our past.
However, I also quickly learned that when operating the time travel vehicle of regret, one must always wear a safety mask of mercy. Without that mask, toxic fumes of shame and guilt can quickly steal your air.
Because I didn’t wear that mask, I was overcome by those toxic fumes. Disoriented, I forgot why I went back. I started thinking that, while I’m here, if I could change a moment in the past, I could change the whole outcome and avoid this whole tire fire.
In my disoriented thinking, this time travel business shifted from useful vehicle to indulgent fantasy.
That’s a problem. Because I don’t live in an indulgent fantasy. I live in real time. And in real time, the past has slipped beyond my reach. It’s untouchable now.
By this point, I was feeling all the effects of shame and guilt, except now over things I could no longer change.
I was collapsing.
Somehow, it came to me that I needed to put my mercy mask on.
I slipped into the mask and, once again, I could breath and see.
How many times have I traveled back in time before this time where I finally understood that only properly outfitted time travel can be safe?
Note to future self.
Wanna take a trip back in time?
Revisit what haunts me and threatens to bury me where I stand?
Be angry over choices that were made that have such a long reach?
Yes, if that helps.
Do it without that safety mask of mercy that keeps me protected from the toxic smoke of guilt and shame?
Gonna need resuscitation.
With a mask of mercy, I can take a good hard look at my choices. I can take a moment to learn from my choices and their results without being overcome by fumes of shame and guilt.
I can even take a long hard look at the choices of others that might heavily impact my life. Of course, this is not as easy, because somehow my mercy mask fogs up a bit when I look at their choices.
But with no mercy at all?
I am robbed of my air and my sight.
With mercy, both for them and me, I can breathe. I have perspective.
With air and perspective, I can see my way clear to be free, which is where I was headed when this slammed into me.
Just keep that mask of mercy handy.