If I offered you the chance to rewind your life to a time before you received your HIV diagnosis – would you take it?
Yesterday I saw one of those chain posts that pop up on Facebook all too often. It asked would you rather take a red pill which – would restart your life at age 10 with all the knowledge you have now, or a blue pill – to jump to 45 years old with £50 million in the bank.
I sat for a moment thinking about it. To be honest, thinking about what I’d do with £50 million.
My pot noodle habit remains unabated so there would be at least one room dedicated to plastic pots and kettles, that’s for damn sure.
After my noodle day dream passed I carried on with my day and forgot about the question.
At lunchtime, keen to get out of the office for a bit and stretch my legs, I walked into town, and had a mooch around the shops. As I left the shops to head back to the office, there, not 20 feet away was… let’s call him ‘Dean’.
Dean and I had been seeing one another briefly earlier this year. I spent most of the summer nights at his place… not sleeping. He was a few years older than me, devastatingly handsome and with a sharp mind.
If I’m honest, I can admit, that I was not my best self when we were seeing each other. At the time, I was lonely, scared, vulnerable and under a lot of pressure and stress. I found it hard to trust anything and anyone.
Our interaction didn’t end well. I was not in a good place to be seeing anyone and Dean caught the sharp edge of my rebound.
And there he was, as handsome as the last day I saw him, walking next to another guy, smiling and looking happy. He hadn’t spotted me, so I averted my gaze, then, glanced back and he was looking right at me.
He smiled and said “Hi” as did I, but neither of us stopped, we carried on and didn’t look back.
It was as I continued to walk back up the hill to the office that the question of the two pills jumped back into my head and suddenly, the answer was obvious.
Neither. We can never go back.
If I had the chance to rewind to 10 years old, knowing everything I know now, I would not do it. If I did, if I went back, what kind of life would it be?
Knowing what’s coming, I think, would be very dull. This surprises me as much as it may do you. There have been plenty of times I wish I could have known what lay around the corner, but if I had, would I have done certain things? Would I have made certain choices? Inevitably not.
So, to know, at 10 years old, what was to come, I would lead myself down a very different path and if I did that, who then would I be?
I have been made by my experiences and my discoveries. By charging through my life, and learning, as we all do, by making a series of perfect mistakes.
If I knew what those mistakes were in advance, which would I avoid? More importantly which would I allow myself to make all over again just to feel that rush of excitement and exhilaration? If I never made those mistakes. I would simply have made others.
The truth is I would not be me, as I am today. I may not have HIV. I may never have found my way here, to be writing these words.
No. we cannot go back.
So what about jumping forward to 45 with a juicy bank balance?
No. I would not do that either.
My niece, my beautiful, perfect Bella is currently two months old. My brother regularly sends photos and videos of her in turn looking adorable or smirking to herself as she drops a massive turd into her nappy, expelling shite with the propulsive force of a jet engine.
To skip the next 14 years? No, I wouldn’t miss her growing up for the world.
Having realised, fairly recently, that I am actually enjoying my life, why then would I give any of it up? Why would I miss the adventures, the good days that fill me with joy, that bad days that help me learn something new about myself, or even just the chances to stop and smell the flowers, feel the rain, look up and see the stars, or share a kiss with a lover?
I have finally accepted that my life is worth living and I’m not about to give any of that up.
So, neither of the time jumping tablets for me thanks. I already take three pills a day. Two pink and one blue and they enable me to carry on and live my life simply as it is.
I may never know what’s coming and I can say, with some certainty, that I will probably never have £50 million in the bank, but I get to enjoy my days as they come, living, loving learning, fucking things up spectacularly, fixing them, celebrating and always growing.
Every now and then though, it’s nice to stop for a moment, reflect on where you’ve been, smile and then keep walking forward.
You can follow Steve on Twitter at @PatchWorkSteve
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