I just read an excerpt from a new book, “The Do-Over" by Andrew Hessel.
I was strongly drawn to the title, for I call the story of my life The Do-Over, too. In fact, it’s the title of the first chapter in my book, Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story and you can read a little bit about my do-over by clicking here.
In Hessel's book, a sophomore in college is set to return home for summer vacation and upon her arrival she finds her mother, father and sister murdered in their home. She barely escapes the same fate and manages to recover after an extended hospital stay. As her body repairs itself, she floats in an unconscious state and is visited by The Guardian, a being who tells her that she has been chosen to have a second chance – to go back in time and change the course of the future.
Upon awakening, she’s not sure if this conversation was real or a dream. As she is set to leave the hospital and fully functioning, The Guardian revisits her and there is no denying she has been given a gift. Of course, there are rules to obey in order to accomplish her do-over. She simply can’t go back and interrupt the murder to save her parents. She must go back to the root of this calamity and make the appropriate corrections. In this case, it is going back to the abusive childhood of the murderer. The excerpt stopped at this point, but I’m anxious to know what happens.
So, here is my question to you…
For those who have lost a partner to death or for those who had a relationship that started with loving intentions and later turned sour, would YOU want to go back and have a do-over and change the course of your personal history?
On the surface, I believe anyone would answer “Yes!” However, I don’t think it’s that easy because you have to determine the root or the why an event occurred and then deal with undetermined ramifications.
Let’s say your husband died of lung cancer. He may have been a smoker or his only job opportunity was in a factory or a mine whose environment was conducive to developing lung cancer. There would be hard decisions and changes to be made. I think it would be hard to convince a healthy young man not to take the only job available because you tell him that he was going to develop lung cancer 40 years down the road (and I’m pretty sure one of the rules is that you couldn’t tell him what you know).
You would have to decide to change your life, too, and probably make sacrifices along the way in order to produce a different result. And, would you be willing to do that? In retrospect, the answer is probably yes, but, in the moment, the answer is possibly not as easy to determine or crystal clear.
In the case of a murder, you would have to change the life of the murderer (as in Hessel's book), or in the case of a suicide, the root may be very difficult to determine or be a myriad of circumstances.
The thing you have to remember is that when you change (even) one thing, it creates a cascade of events with a new result that may be different than the first but not necessarily better or the one for which you hoped. Each individual has his own free will and, try as hard as you might, you can really only be in charge of your actions and not dictate how others will react.
So, on the surface, it seems like a wonderful opportunity to be able to go back to prevent tragedy from befalling you. On the other hand, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for because it might have unexpected results.
To tell you the truth, I think producing and experiencing a personal do-over is best accomplished as you move forward and make beneficial changes in your life.
It’s a nice fantasy, though, to think you could time travel and avoid the loss of a loved one. And although life is not a fantasy, it is possible to create magic in yours by using your own free will to accomplish great things, find love and be loved.
I do think it is a great premise for a book, though. If you're interested, you can download and read the excerpt here.