It’s difficult to look at a decision, however small or large, that was made in good faith, and then to later realize it is no longer applicable, no longer the correct course of action, no longer the right attitude for the present.
Occasionally these things happen. In some cases we don’t even realize the impact of the decision being faced, in others we understand its permanence, but not how time will shift our opinions.
We can see, some time after settling on our choice, results beginning to develop that weren’t intended, or we might find that what was supposed to work forever can only work for a little while.
Ten years ago in January I put a tattoo on the inside of my left forearm – six black script letters, spelling out the word “WISDOM.”
Ten years I’ve worn it, at first with pride, then with some reservations, and finally, with regret.
It’s never too late to change things that aren’t working out, so I’m having the tattoo removed. I actually began the removal process several years ago, and gave up – but decided to see the painful experience through to its completion.
The process is unpleasant, to say the least – five to seven treatments with a Q-Switched laser throwing its beam under my skin, where it explodes ink particles that will then somehow ‘recycle’ back into my body and disappear. It is much costlier and more expensive than the tattoo’s arrival was.
Time is a challenging landscape to navigate. I think of Salvador Dali’s melting clocks and Thomas Mann’s ‘Magic Mountain’ and other places where time skips and floats and jumps in unpredictable ways. We know what it looks like on a calendar, but how do we know what a year, or ten, will actually feel like?
The best we can do, once we’ve realized that a decision was made in error, is make our best effort to reduce its harm, redact its statement, or remove its stain. It’s never too late to make a change. Maybe nothing is really permanent, after all.