Money or mitigating mistakes?

Would I have to relive parts of my twenties? OH, God, please, NO.

bluepillOne finds these on Facebook all the time. Would you rather have this large sum of money, or do something that would be perceived as more noble?

I look at these options, and the choice was surprisingly easy; I’d take the cash. This does not come from either greed or shallowness. Rather it is from the recognition that the mistakes I made – and to quote Sinatra, “I’ve made a few” – are what makes me, ME. This is NOT to say that there aren’t choices I’ve regretted, only that undoing them would mean I would presumably unlearn the lesson of my errors.

To play the scenario out, there’s no guarantee that fixing the mistakes would lead to a good result. I was struck by the fact, in the Stephen King novel 11/22/63, that the protagonist has to make several different attempts going back in time to try to thwart the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. More prosaically, there’s an irritating newish Disney show called Best Friends Whenever, about time traveling teens, and they too find going back to fix things not so easy.

Would I have to relive parts of my twenties? OH, God, please, NO.

Sometimes mistakes are good. I was giving a presentation at the Friends of the Albany Public book review on The Gospel According to the Beatles. Some of the group’s greatest creativity came from “mistakes,” such as the line “two foot small” in You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, instead of “two foot tall.” Moreover, there is a philosophy that one should embrace the errors as part of the serendipity of life. Many inventions were “mistakes,” someone trying to make something else.

Hey, maybe the mistake was not saving enough for retirement, or for The Daughter’s college fund. Taking the money would SOLVE the error.

Online, someone fretted that having lots of money would be too likely to change his life, a legitimate concern, giving the history of some lottery winners. I wrote:
Think of the things
You can do with that money
Choose any charity
Give to the poor
This reference to Caiaphas singing in Jesus Christ Superstar – Damned For All Time/ Blood Money – was totally lost on the participants, alas.

But what say YOU?

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

8 thoughts on “Money or mitigating mistakes?”

  1. When I saw the image, my first thought was: ‘take the money!’ I’m glad it isn’t just me. I like to think that for every right and wrong decision we make, somewhere there is another one of us that takes the wrong and right step, so in one of those infinte realities I’m living the perfect life and in another a perfect hell. I’m happy to settle for the one I’ve got somewhere in the middle!

  2. I admit I’d pick the “fix the mistakes” even though most of my “mistakes” aren’t terribly huge. But being able to go back and not tease that girl below me on the pecking order in grade school, not being rude to that guy who “fancied” me but was too awkward to show it in a way I could recognize….

    Money would be nice but it wouldn’t fix the types of mistakes I’ve made; most of the things I remember as mistakes were things that hurt other people.

    Then again – having to go back and relive being 13, no thanks.

  3. Is take the money as well; the mistakes, as you note, make us what we are now. Most of the mistakes I’d choose to “fix” that would not entirely change the present would have been minor financial fixes (shouldn’t have cashed in that pension account) or failures to take experiential opportunities (my family had friends in Holland, why didn’t I go for a Summer, as offered )

  4. Your entry provoked a long discussion over margaritas here in Puerto Motelos regarding the unintended consequences of trying to change one’s personal history. Choosing more recent mistakes & choices would be the safer route of action; but in paradox, wouldn’t changing one’s own history change one’s memory of your history thus preventing you from making changes??
    Take The Money…

  5. I am not persuaded that fixing all my mistakes would perforce improve my life; for one thing, there are a lot of mistakes, and as any programmer can tell you, fixing a single bug can create several others.

    So cut me a check and let me pass it on to the people who need it. (I don’t need as much of it as I used to.)

  6. Please make the check out to: Amy Barlow Liberatore.

    Thank you, Roger.

    Half of my biggest mistakes ended up being great. My first marriage gave me Riley, the amazing artist. It goes on from there. But with the money, I could build housing for the homeless – and buy some politicians, hee hee. Get us some damned health care and like that!! Great discussion with Lex about this. He wants to buy the Philadelphia Eagles some new, nicer fans…

  7. I’m with you, Roger: Money, no question about it. While there are mistakes I wouldn’t mind “fixing”, I’ve also read enough fiction/seen movies to know that you change one thing in the past, and everything changes. Things that seem like there mistakes back then, nevertheless lead us to where we are now, both literally and figuratively, which is why for me it’s not just about the lessons learned, but the fact that changing one little thing in my past might have meant that the life I have now would never have happened, and I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything. No, I’ll take the money.

  8. I’d take the money because I’m coming back to fix my mistakes again and again until I get it right whether I want to or not. I have to keep coming back because I have to figure out what exactly are those mistakes, once I do figure them out the right actions will be obvious. i haven’t the slightest idea why. Perhaps this is true of everybody, I don’t know. If that sounds utterly insane, well then, oh well.

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