Time, as we currently know it, is immutable, and is quite a fickle thing. While we can look into the past, we cannot change it - and funnily enough, the inverse is true about the future… We cannot look at it (or rather, we do not already know what is in store for us in the future) - however, we certainly can influence it!
Every now and then, someone asks me “If you could go back in time, and change
$SOMETHING (such as not being afflicted with my chronic condition), would you?”… And what a tough question that is to answer. Here’s my thoughts on that question:
A very common phrase is “We are the sum of the experiences of our past”, and for the most part, I find this quote to be fairly truthful. Let’s set aside the “Nature vs Nurture” question, as that’s a whole separate discussion - and focus on the “nurture” piece.
Using the example I provided to the question asked - which is, if I had the power to modify my past so that I was never “imbued” with Crohn’s Disease, would I do so?
Ah, see on the surface that seems like an easy choice - one that you might think I would make in a heartbeat. I mean, who would willingly want to live a life full of pain, missed opportunities, broken dreams, etc?
The thing is though, if you try to look at the question with some actual depth, the answer doesn’t seem quite that simple. If I were to remove my condition from the equation, it would have a massive impact (in fact, I’d go as far as to say a “domino effect”) on my upbringing. While Crohn’s took away lots of opportunities from my life (and continues to do so), it has also given me opportunities. Now yes, this may sound… strange, but I think of it like this: What were the outcomes of the choices that were taken away from me?
I have a circle of fantastic friends, and I wouldn’t trade those friends for anything. Full stop. In my darkest moments, when I look to the past, I often feel that Crohn’s robbed me of a chance at a normal childhood - which I don’t think is a completely invalid opinion, after all there were plenty of things I didn’t do in my childhood due to constantly being ill. The paths that I did take because of the fact that some paths I couldn’t take, lead me to meeting the people that I did - and that lead me to the friends that I hold dearest to me. And that’s not all! Here’s an example of what I mean by this:
I was quite an athletic kid, until I was removed from gym classes due to my health issues.
Because of my lack of participating in athletics, I started focusing heavily into the sciences - specifically, computer science.
Because I started focusing into computer science, I started dabbling into programming.
Due to leaning into working with the software side of computers, naturally the “relaxing” component to writing software was enjoying software.
What is a common type of software to “enjoy”? Video games!
One game that happened to be very popular at the time? Minecraft!
Minecraft eventually gains an incredibly active modding scene…
How do you mod Minecraft? Via programming!
Minecraft gave me something to apply my programming skills to, and improve them.
Continuing to explore the modding scene lead me to the multiplayer community of Minecraft.
I met some of my closest friends in the Minecraft multiplayer community!
… Which lead me to branching out to other games, and meeting some of my other fantastic and closest friends along the way!
And the even cooler thing? This could be expanded on even further, a lot of these events ended up lining up in such a perfect way. My friends were the ones who notified me about a job opening at the company that I work for now! And my knowledge and skills of administrating and managing Minecraft multiplayer communities is what helped me meet the qualifications for that position!
I also truly do believe that the bad experiences I’ve faced in the past helped me to develop my sense of empathy - and that empathy is what drives my desire to always strive to help people (it just so happens that my job heavily relies around customer service as much as it revolves around IT skills)!
Those events are inexplicably interconnected - I couldn’t have any of these events without the other, and they are what lead to a lot of the good portions of my life. In fact, it is incredibly difficult for me to not see it as some sort of fate and/or destiny and is something that I often fight my “logical side” on.
Hopefully that helps represent my viewpoint a bit more. As you can probably now see, the question isn’t a simple one for sure - despite the fact that it’s probably a question that goes back as far as human sentience! For better, or for worse, my life is the way it is - and while it’s often hard for me to see the positives, I genuinely think that I happen to land on the “for better” side of things.
I can’t remove the negatives of my past (and foreseeable future) without also removing the positives as well - and the same thing most likely applies to quite a few people!
I leave you with the same question - if you could change your past to remove the negatives (or even a single negative), would you?