Jeanette Sekan
Jeanette Sekan
By Jeanette Sekan
The Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise
HCP columnist

If only.

How many times have we said that during our lifetime?

If only we’d done “X” instead of “Y.” I’d like a dollar for every time I think that phrase has crossed my mind over the years. I have a hunch that phrase is for those of us over the age of 12, or maybe 16.

Those teen years are a time we’re so sure of everything. We’re sure we know what’s best, how much our parents don’t understand, and that we have it all figured out. It’s only as a few poor choices and some bad luck that seemed to appear out of nowhere do we start to think there’s more out there than we would like to admit.

But with a few stumbles under our belt, the thought of rethinking choices and decisions starts to sneak into our thinking in the deep, dark night when we are re-examining things that went well, and especially those things that ended poorly. We can’t go back for a redo, but sometimes those thoughts and examinations can lead to better choices in the future. They don’t always, but hopefully when we know better, we’ll do better.

Some of the “if onlys” can be attributed to situations and people beyond our individual control. My relationship with my mother was complicated. Over the years, the initial questions that kept me up at night were, “Why?” and, “What did I do wrong?” It took time and some attempts to try to look at her life for my questions shift to “if only.” It didn’t change the facts or the feelings. It just changed the dynamic. It also didn’t change the outcomes.

Most of the “if onlys” have to do with things we wish we could do differently, with the extra help of hindsight. Life never seems to work that way. Hindsight is helpful and can be a learning experience. Hindsight can be an extra anxiety we give ourselves for no reason, and only create more havoc.

During this particularly perilous time we face as a country and civilization, I find myself asking: if only we could get along; if only I’d been kinder and more patient with others; if only I hadn’t spent my money on wants instead of needs; if only I’d made that long overdue call; if only there weren’t so much hate that has broken through the shadows and gained traction in the light of day; if only we had leadership that spoke to the light within most of us rather than the dark; if only the blame discussions would cease and the solution discussions would begin; if only we eschewed lies and misinformation; if only we weren’t so gullible to the façade of celebrity, false bravado and self-aggrandizement.

I suppose this is one of the things the species of Homo sapiens does. We second guess, blame, attempt to rationalize and justify things we know are wrong, but seem more expedient.

It’s difficult to look at situations squarely and realize no matter how much we wish it to be different, it will never be what we hope or thought. If only.