If I'm typing and I accidentally hit the delete key, I don't have to worry. All I have to do to get my work back is to hit the undo button.
Then presto, the work that disappeared will be back again. Nothing is lost.
Wouldn't it be nice if life were like that?
Wouldn't it save so many tears and so much regret if we could sweep away any part of living we didn't like by hitting the "undo" button? Then we could do it again the way we want.
I met two women this week who are mentally pushing the undo button of their lives. They are wiping away memories of their childhood. Then they are pushing another button – the redo button.
"I never had a childhood," Anne told me. "I never played outside, never did any of the things children get to do."
Instead, she says she "cleaned up vomit," and took care of her alcohol- and drug-addicted mother.
"As the oldest, I had to take care of the four younger kids. If I didn't figure out how to get some food, we didn't eat," she says.
Anne emphatically says she didn't have a bad childhood. "I had no childhood at all," she says.
She met her friend Linda in Al-Anon where both went to learn how to cope with alcoholic mothers. They learned they had a lot in common and have been enjoying the gift of a close friendship for many years.
"While Anne had no father, I always thought she was the lucky one. I had a drunken stepfather in addition to an alcoholic mother. She couldn't protect me from him and I don't even want to remember those days," Linda says.
So they both pushed the delete button on the past, concentrating instead on today. They claim they refuse to be stuck in the past and they refuse to think of themselves as victims.
Instead, they are enjoying life, appreciating all its small wonders.
Anne, who is in her early 60s, says she is finally having the childhood she was denied. "This is the first time in my life that I can do what I want instead of what others want me to do," she says.
After watching people kayak on a lake, she says she finally decided to try it. "I stayed on the lake just feeling like a kid and just taking everything in," she says.
Linda says she, too, has another chance at childhood, thanks to her two young grandchildren. She's enjoying the joys of childhood through their eyes.
Both say they have no patience for people who sit around moaning about their past. "We tell them to stop complaining and get out there and enjoy the present," Anne says.
I wholeheartedly agree with them.
Whether you push the delete button or the undo button of your brain, past problems can't drown you emotionally if you consciously leave the past behind.
You can't change the past, no matter what you do. But there is no reason to let the past ruin your present.
Some, like Anne, are trying to undo the sadness of past times by creating a joyful present.
But unlike my computer with its undo button, real life doesn't have that function. Sometimes, we can't undo an action, even when we wish we could.
My friend Randy admits he wishes he could undo one of his actions.
For years, Randy and my close friend Jodi were life partners. They seemed well suited to each other, got along great and were fun to be with. They were definitely a favorite couple of mine.
I have no idea what happened. No one knows what goes on behind someone else's walls.
I do know when Jodi went away to help her daughter, Randy got a new girlfriend in record time two weeks.
He moved the new girlfriend into his house without even telling Jodi he had found someone new. She came back from New York and was stunned to find the locks on the house had been changed and her things had been packed and put in the garage.
A few months after that, Randy called my cellphone to say he missed my husband and me. He asked us to get together for lunch.
I ignored the phone calls.
When I did encounter Randy again, he asked if I was mad at him for what he did to my friend.
I told him I wasn't mad. I was disappointed that he acted totally without honor.
"It's one thing to break up with someone. I have no problem with that. But it's quite another thing when it's done the callous way you did it," I candidly told him.
Randy surprised me when he admitted he handled it wrong because he hates confrontation.
"If I could do it over again, I would never pull something like that," he said.
In other words, he wished he had an undo button.
After some initial struggles, Jodi went on with her life without Randy. She tries hard not to be bitter, preferring to remember the extraordinarily kind things Randy did during their eight years together. I think she has a winning attitude.
We both believe him when he says he wishes he could redo the shoddy end of their relationship.
Is there an undo button in real life?
What are your thoughts?