Wednesday, July 12, 2006

one hundred percent.

"Knowing what you know now, would you change the past?"
Someone that I had been briefly involved with asked me that question recently. We had met when I was dealing with an ongoing personal setback and not looking to meet anyone new. But I had thought it was worth taking the chance to spend time with someone who captured my imagination.
It had also felt good to reach towards something positive again amid all the other uncertainty going on. I didn't realize until too late that she had felt (understandably) overwhelmed by my intensity.
Later I got in contact to let her know that I regretted making her feel uncomfortable. Towards the end of the discussion she raised the question at the top of this post.
I've thought about the broader nature of that question a lot since then.
Last weekend I received an email from an online personals service. They had ranked the profiles of twelve women with whom I shared a number of mutual interests. I had signed up for an ongoing subscription back in the fall, shortly before becoming laid off. I had exchanged some emails with a few people initially, but soon put my time and energy towards finding a new job and pretty much forgot about my account there.
Usually I would just delete the scheduled weekly emails as soon as they came in, but this time my eye was drawn towards a single photograph right away. It took a second or two before I even realized whose picture it actually was.
It seemed that the computer had calculated that we were a 78% match. I read her profile and recognized again the things that had attracted me towards her in the first place.
I spent a moment thinking if things might have gone another way if we had met now, under better circumstances. I know that back then I was much further away from 22% of the person who appears in my profile today.
I've come to understand that ultimately it wasn't just the timing of when we met that affected the course that things took. My response towards her was based on something deeper as well.
I don't mean to be overly analytical, and I know that there are many people who have faced much greater hardships than myself, but the fact is that I've experienced a number of losses in my life so far with the death of a spouse and both parents.
In the past when I would see a situation that might potentially lead to something really worthwhile, my first impulse was to immediately pursue it sooner rather than later. Most likely because I had experienced first-hand how quickly time can be cut short.
I get it now that while I can't change the fact that those events have already occurred, I can control how I let them shape my behavior in the present. It's my responsibility to keep things in the proper perspective, with more open communication with the other person to avoid a possible misunderstanding.
The percentage of how two people might potentially match up with each other is arbitrary. The only figure that really counts is how close I can come towards matching my own fullest potential, and to make a continued effort to always keep that number in sight.
I realized that I would not have reached that understanding today if I had not gone through that experience with that person back when I did.
So, knowing what I know now,
I wouldn't change the past.
But, knowing what I know now,
I can change the future.