I See It Differently

“Not finishing what you started can cause more regret than never starting at all. “

Boom! Mic drop!

This was the last sentence of my previous post. It wrapped up the context of what I was trying to say, and I felt it was a great line to drive my message home. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with myself.

Then, a good friend of mine messaged me and said, ”Love this, Mark. Although I’ll disagree with your last sentence: I’d regret never starting something I’ve wanted to do more than never finishing it . My thought? At least I gave it a try! “

Disagree? With my killer mic drop line?

Hmm.

Now I’m the kind of person who welcomes different opinions, and I don’t mind at all when people disagree with me.

Mind you, not about simple things that are common knowledge, like if pineapple belongs on a pizza… which it does; or whether or not Han shot first… which he did; or even if toilet paper should be pulled from the front of the roll or the back. Everyone knows it should come from the front; and I’ll not waste the time or the energy debating the obvious.

But in cases like these, I welcome the difference of opinion because it causes me to stop and reconsider my own position. I’ve found great wisdom in recent years by simply asking myself the simple question “What if I’m wrong?”

Often, I think we forget to ask ourselves this. We tend to surround ourselves with likeminded people, the news we follow usually aligns with our way of thinking, and the algorithms on our social media accounts reinforce our beliefs with every post we click on. It can be real easy to get locked into our own perspective. But when someone you respect offers a different point of view, it’s a chance for you to reevaluate your beliefs, especially when there is really no right or wrong answer. A difference of opinion can actually be a gift.

This instance was no different. Is it better to try new things instead of finishing the thing you’ve already started? I had to back up and mull that over again. After all, a Bucket List is nothing to take lightly, and if I neglect it by focusing on projects that are incomplete, my whole life could be wasted.

Okay, that may be a bit much, but you get my point.

So I pondered what my friend Lillie had told me. I’d be foolish not to, considering she is extremely intelligent, and has a fantastic outlook on life. I value her opinion greatly, and honestly, there was a time that I felt the same way she did. I mean if you think about it, that’s why I had started all these things to begin with.

As a matter of fact, in my younger days…

That’s when it occurred to me, I did feel the same way once, but it was a long time ago. Time had changed my outlook on this along with a great many other things. Lillie’s younger than me, and a quarter century ago I viewed life in a similar way. Now that I’m older, the thought of leaving things unfinished when I die concerns me greatly. Hell, it almost scares me. With the reality of only having fifty or so years ahead of me, if I’m lucky, it is more important to me now to complete something rather than try something new. For me right now, accomplishment is more important than experiment.

Does this mean she’ll feel the same way too when she’s in her fifties? Probably not. It takes more than time to alter one’s opinion on life. I’m sure the experiences we live through have a great deal to do with it as well. That’s not to say someone who has been through the same kinds of things I have would feel the same way I do either. I have many friends who have gone through similar experiences as I have and look at life a lot differently. I guess it would have to be a combination of time, experience, and how it affects us personally.

But what the hell do I know? There are people with doctorates in psychology, and monks living in temples trying to unlock this mystery. What chance does a guy with an associate degree from a trade school have of figuring it out?

The main takeaway I got from this, was realizing how much my views had changed over the years. I definitely don’t see life in the same way as I used to. But as I kept thinking about it, I realized that not only had my perspective changed from when I was in in my mid thirties, 30 year old Mark looked at life very differently than 20 year old Mark did. My outlook on things seemed to change throughout my whole life.

I won’t get into the specifics, after all this is a blog post, not a memoir. But suffice to say as I grew older, my priorities shifted from getting a record deal for my band (which was Awesome by the way), to keeping my family fed, to figuring out how much longer I need to work before I retire. I’ve come a long way from worrying about my band, even though getting it back together is on my Almost List.

But now it occurs to me, if my outlook has changed this much in the last 30 years, how will I view things 20 or 30 years in the future? If time and experience effects our perspective, how will I view things then?

The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we done changing; that who we are now is who we’re always going to be. So it would only make sense that we’d assume we’ll always have the same opinions on things for the rest of our lives, when in all actuality, there is very little chance of that happening.

With this in mind, I’m willing to bet that 70 year old Mark will probably think 55 year old Mark is a moron, the same way I feel about 20 year old Mark. Then again, I’m better looking than 70 year old Mark, so he’s probably just jealous.

The point I’m trying to make is we’re never done changing. So our views and opinions on things today may very well be a lot different in the years to come. That doesn’t mean we’re wrong now, we’re just seeing things from the perspective of where we’re at. After all, how steep we think a hill is depends greatly on where we are standing on it as we’re climbing.

So when you are forming an opinion on something, or listening to someone else’s, consider how you would have viewed it twenty years ago. Then think about how you’ll feel twenty years from now. Maybe this could help us establish a more open mind, look at things a little more more objectively and think a little more critically.

Then again I’ll probably read this in twenty years and see it differently.

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