The CBC has a show, Being Erica, about a woman whose life is so not going the way she’d hoped and is offered a chance to rectify the regrets that got her to this point. In the pilot, she gets fired and dumped on the same day, then has a near-death allergic reaction to a Starbucks sample. In the hospital, she meets Dr Tom, a man I find unbelievably irritating in an “I’m-not-here-to-give-you-the-answers-so-figure-it-out-yourself” kind of way. Dr Tom uses quotes from the wise and well-known (as well as the ignorant and infamous) to guide Erica through her unorthodox therapy.
Erica gave Dr Tom a list of her biggest regrets. During each session, one regret is discussed and Erica – usually on the defensive – tells the good doctor off by telling him what she’d do differently. And BAM! She’s back in 1992 at her grade 11 formal to undo her regret of getting stumbling drunk and making a fool of herself in front of everyone. While Erica makes different decisions, she usually comes back to the present having achieved the same outcome – she still made a fool of herself in front of everyone at the formal – but those decisions she made in the new past shed new light on whatever situation she is in in the present. For example, the grade 11 formal situation taught her that it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks of you as long as you’re a good friend and person. Erica humiliated herself by appearing – in her underwear – in the middle of the dance to get help for her friend suffering a seizure in the locker room. Her boyfriend dumped her, the whole school thought she was a skanky lunatic (why else would she be in her underwear if she wasn’t having sex with some guy?) but none of that mattered to her this time around because she knew her actions saved her friend’s life.
This got me thinking… After watching two seasons of Erica righting her wrongs, shouldn’t I do the same? No, I can’t travel back in time, but I can make a list of people I have wronged – My Name is Earl-style – and make good. Go for coffee with a friend I treated poorly. Own up to my mistakes in a failed friendship. Apologise to a bullied classmate…
On that note, I’d love to be on the receiving end of that apology. I realise it’s been 10+ years since I was last truly bullied, but it still means something to me to know that the people who made my life living hell for years regret their actions. I’d like to hear it from them, though, not the grapevine. I like to think that, as adults, we’ve each learned to be a big enough person to own up to the wrongs we committed at 7, 9, 12 years old. Children can be cruel and exposure to that kind of cruelty can change a person in their soul. Only by the grace of God have I been able to keep myself from being a bitter, jaded, black-hearted person, angry at the world for what happened to me. Or keep myself alive, for that matter. But that’s a different story. This is about righting wrongs I have committed, not my screwy childhood or my beliefs or what I want from other people.
While I have very honestly come to terms with many of my regrets, I want to learn something from Erica – learn from my regrets and move on from them. I don’t see the point in dwelling on what we can’t change, but I do see the point in allowing what we can’t change to enlighten us and accepting the opportunity to act differently the next time around. But just because you made a mess doesn’t mean you can’t clean it up.