Earlier this week, someone I follow on Twitter posed a question: “You are given the opportunity of invoking Groundhog Day on your life. The day will be a random choice between your best day ever or your worst day ever. Do you risk it or decline?”
That’s a hypothetical conundrum, obviously, as the option to re-visit a day on your life doesn’t exist outside science-fiction or the Bill Murray movie of the same name. But it sounds interesting, doesn’t it? I mean, popping back to ‘fix’ what went wrong on your worst day, or just enjoying your best ever.
Not as simple as that, though.
I wrote recently about how an unexpected piece of mail significantly changed the course of my life. Similarly, there is another incident which turned out to be just as monumental, but again in itself seemed trivial at the time.
I had left school in June, was out of work having left my job on a farm the previous year, my father had died just over twelve months ago, and I was struggling (if I’m honest) to see any purpose in my life.
There was one particular family who had helped us tremendously through this difficult time. Quite simply, they were like an extended family.
One of that family invited me to join him on a Saturday to watch the local football team, Carrick Rangers. It took a bit of persuasion to get me to eventually say yes. The success of Northern Ireland in that summer’s World Cup in Spain had raised my interest in the game, but the idea of going to see a non-league team wasn’t that appealing. I think I declined the offer about four times, before I gave in.
My first game was at the club’s ground at Taylors Avenue. I have no recollection of who were the opponents, or what the final score was. It didn’t seem important enough to warrant banking those details in my memory cells.
Over the next few months, I was taken to most of the team’s games, home and away., and I was hooked. This was the start of a relationship with the club that persists until today.
But, its not just the football on the pitch that has impacted on me. It’s been the consequences of my association with Carrick Rangers.
Within a year of being a regular at matches, I joined their supporters club. I got on particularly well with one fellow member who lived not that far from me. We arranged that on match days I would call for him on the way to a game and walk to the ground together, discussing the team’s prospects later that day, and then analysing the performance on the way home after the final whistle. We became, and remain, good friends.
Obviously as a regular caller at his house, I got to meet his family. That’s where, on one such pre-match house call in late 1985, I first met one of his sisters, Eileen. She had recently returned to Northern Ireland after working in England. We probably exchanged no more than a polite “hello”.
A year later, I had started working in the Civil Service. With a bit of cash behind me now, and a return of My confidence due to being in work, I plucked up the courage to ask Eileen out for a date. We married the following year.
So, looking back, without that first Carrick Rangers match I would never have even met Eileen, and my son Ryan would not exist! I have also had some truly memorable experiences resulting directly from my relationship with the club, and met some terrific people along the way, some of whom have become trusted friends.
This is just one personal example of why I would always decline the offer of a Groundhog Day, even if it was possible. There is no way to tell what way things will turn out from even the most apparently insignificant of events. Tinker with them at your peril.
Your life’s path changes through the most trivial of moments, not just the biggies. I’m sure we all look back and think, “if only”, but don’t let that be more than a moment of reflection. It can be unhealthy to live your current life looking over your shoulder and contemplating too long on the “what ifs” – you can’t change the past.
Confine Groundhog Day to the movies and brief wishful thinking.