When I was three, I used to lay with my head propped on my dog, Sheba. Sheba was a big black lab. She would curl around me with my head comfortably resting on her side and I would share my chewing gum with her. I would chew it some. Then Sheba would chew. I have no memory of this. I know it happened because I was told it did, but I have very little memory of Sheba. When I grew older, say about five or six, Sheba ran away and she was hit by a car. She was hurt badly, but with Sheba being as big as she was, she survived.
Sheba survived, but she was never the same.
Months later, I was playing in the backyard with some friends. One of my friends startled Sheba and she turned on him, biting my friend on his hand and then leaping up to bite his head. After that, Sheba grew more aggressive and she had to leave our home. To this day, my Mother maintains her story that Sheba went to live on a farm where she could run and play more—because this is why Sheba was so unhappy. She didn’t have enough room to run and play.
When I was old enough to understand more, I asked why this happened. My Old Man explained, “Sometimes, things happen in life that we can’t come back from.” He said, “It’s a little easier for people, because we can communicate, but dogs can’t talk.” The Old Man said, “Dogs have no way of communicating how they feel, so they react.”
The Old Man was right.
Sometimes, something happens between people and there is no way to come back from it.
When we were kids, we had this thing we called, “Do-overs.” I am certainly not the first person to discuss this, but I do have my opinion on the subject. A do-over happened when something went wrong in the game. Either someone was hurt, or there was an accidental foul. A do-over happened when something was unfair, but there had to be a level of genuine fairness for this to work, otherwise, there was no real do-over. What a do-over did was erase the harm, or foul, and it gave us the chance to play through without breaking the rhythm of our game.
And to us, it was as if the wrong never happened . . .
Imagine if at work, one, if not all of us raised our arms and said, “Do-over,” and all was forgiven.
Do-overs become harder with age, and like The Old Man told me, “Sometimes, things happen in life that we can’t come back from.”
He was right.
When The Old Man would get frustrated with me, he would ask, “Do you even think before you act?” but I never answered him. Then he would tell me, “You need to get your head out of your ass!”
Words and actions are often irretrievable. Bruises may heal, and cuts may close, but words and actions remain in our hearts for longer than we want them to.
I wish we still had do-overs.
I wish they were as easy as they were in say, a game of man-hunt or kick the can.
If there were still do-overs, I would have played with my dog Sheba more.
I would have learned to communicate instead of reacting (like a dog).
I would have thought more carefully about the things I say.
I would have avoided certain arguments, and this way, maybe our holiday dinners would be as big as they once were.
Life is too short for regret and time is too valuable to waste on arguments.
If I had the chance of a do-over, I would gladly accept the loss in some of my past arguments.
After all, losing an argument is better than losing a friend.
Saying, “I’m wrong,” on the spot or, “I’m sorry,” is certainly easier than missing the phone calls that no longer come.
Above all, I have learned this:
Pride is contagious, and without caution, pride is overwhelming.
And pride is the reason for most of my do-over requests.
Years after a bad falling out, I tried calling an old friend. We talked for several minutes, but it was not the same.
“I guess we’re just different people now,” he said.
“I guess you’re right,” I told him.
That was one of my saddest goodbyes.
I could have used a do-over on that one.
Oh, and as for asking for a do-over at work—I tried it.
I made a mistake on one of my jobs, but when I asked my boss, “Can I have a do-over,” he looked up at me from behind his desk, folded his eyebrows downward, and said, “Well, if you would just take your head out of your ass, then you wouldn’t need any more do-overs!”
Somehow, I think my boss and The Old Man were friends in a past life.