“To do anything well requires a lot of editing,” my professor once told me.
I’ve been realizing this a lot lately, and not just in my writing. Life is full of edits and things we wish we could edit. What I wouldn’t give for a time machine some days, to go back and fix things—or maybe un-“fix” them, to do something right instead of the easy solution.
In all honesty, however, I wouldn’t change a thing in my past, time machine or not. As much as I hate to admit so at times, everything that’s ever happened (or not happened, as it may be) in my life has made me who I am today, and taking back any one thing, no matter how inconsequential it might seem, would change all of that. It’s not worth losing all that.
No, I can’t change what’s already happened, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything about what’s happening now and what will happen. As I said, anything done well requires editing, and who doesn’t want to live well? Still, not all editing is good editing. And sometimes, you don’t even get to be the one editing your life. Like turning my articles over to my editor, when I let people into my life, they get that chance to forever change it, good or bad.
That’s what you do when you make friends; they edit you. They encourage you to be something else, something more. But friends aren’t the only ones who edit. And what can you do when the editing is beyond your control? I mean, people can even edit you out of their life, and you don’t get a say in any of it.
And what about those who get cut out of your life, deliberately or not? Sure, you can try to edit in a few more moments with a person, but you know it won’t last. People move away, people move on, people die. It’s all a part of growing up, of editing. No one ever said edits were easy, and they definitely aren’t pleasant.
The best intentions can end in a painful edit, too. Friendships change or edit as you grow older; some grow apart, some grow closer…some even grow into something more.
I guess it’s true that friends aren’t always in your life forever, but their impact can be. But that’s another thing. The bad stuff only edits you if you let it. Sure, it’ll take more work to turn those problems into something good, but it’s not impossible. Then again, the good can only change you if you let it, too. The final edit is always up to you.
Sometimes, I do a different type of editing. Everyone does it. Put on a happy face to cover the hurt. Pretend. Act civil to the people you know are just watching and waiting for you to mess up, waiting for that little mistake that gives them the “right” to block you from their life, literally or just on Facebook.
Or maybe I edit a little differently.
Instead of faking it, maybe I can actually wish happiness upon those people. Maybe I can be genuinely concerned about others, even when I am upset or hurt myself. Those are edits too, ones that improve your character. See, there reaches a point where making yourself do the right thing becomes what you want to do. And that’s the goal: not to be the best—no, impossible—but be the best possible you.
And sometimes, that means saying what you mean, even if the people who need to hear it in all likelihood won’t ever read a word, or they’ll completely misinterpret it. And that’s fine—not that I could do anything about it anyway—but like I said, that’s not up to me to change their mind. It’s just up to me to try.
Originally written more than a year ago, but I found it still just as applicable today.