Matt Sweetwood has built himself a mental time machine. He is going to go back and change all the things that went wrong in his life. Here is how his journey went.
Imagine if we could travel back in time. Now that is not a stupid statement. Not because it’s really possible (channeling my inner Einstein here) but because I can promise you every single person on earth over 18 years old has imagined it at some time or another. And depending on how one’s decisions have impacted their lives, determines how much that thought will likely enter one’s mind. Thinking back to troubled periods in my life, I recall having daily thoughts of wanting to travel back in time.
So as to not to be greedy or overly mess up the universe, let’s say I could go back in time and relive only one day. What day would it be and what would I do differently?
Now if you asked either of my two ex-wives what day I should do over, you might receive a response mentioning the day I was born. But since I don’t know where either of them is, we can’t ask them. But that does have me thinking about my time with them. The marriage to my first wife didn’t end well. She ended up leaving me and our 5 young kids and hasn’t seen or spoken to her kids in 15 years now. It was a very ugly and costly divorce too. I ended up raising my kids by myself. So I think back to the day I met my first wife when we were in graduate school together. And I think back to the day we got married. Those are logical choices for days to want do-overs. The problem is that if I change any of that I wouldn’t have the five amazing adult children that I have today – all of whom are successful, wonderful and kind people – and extremely close to me. They are the joy of my life.
At 23 years old, I chose to pass up the career opportunities that an Ivy League graduate degree could offer, to start a family with my first wife, work in our family business and make money. That business was a very difficult one. The electronics retail and distribution business is no joke and probably has taken years off my life. It provided its own set of adventures, good and bad – until I sold it last August, after 28 years. Do I want a do over of the day I made that decision? How would I have been able to care for five children and survive an apocalyptic divorce with a regular 9 to 5 job? The flexibility and support system that comes with owning my own business provided me with exactly what I needed to get through all of that and through my second marriage and divorce as well.
How about any of those “special days” with my second wife? Re-do the day we met in Manhattan, the day she met my kids or the day we decided to get married? That was a difficult marriage with a difficult ending too. I have some terribly painful and lonely moments from that marriage. But something wonderful came out of those incredibly low times – I found my spirituality. I found wisdom, understanding and an appreciation for life that I would never have discovered had I not been through that ordeal. Today, I am the president of a spiritual-based non-profit in NYC helping others in their lives. I owe much of that to the bad and good days with my 2nd wife. So no do-overs there either.
It has become clear to me there are no accidents in life and things that may have seemed bad at the time somehow have turned out for my benefit – in almost every instance. I know whatever happens to me is purposeful. Recalling some spiritual wisdom courtesy of my hero, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin: “Trust in God does not mean we must assume that everything will be all right. We have no way of knowing in advance exactly how events will turn out. Rather, trust in God means that whatever occurs is for our ultimate good, and we have the ability to withstand any tests.”
I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for patience and God put me in situations where I was forced to wait.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
I received nothing I wanted but I received everything I needed.
As I wander through the memories of my life, particularly the lowest of times, I’ve come to realize that my life is exactly is how it should be. I don’t want to re-live or redo any of my life since everything that did happen was for my good and made me into the person I am today – one day at a time since the day I was born.
So as I travel back through the times of my life, what would I change?