Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Fixing the Past

May 09th, 2011 by G.

Perhaps people don’t want to break with an unhappy past so much as to relive it; to return to some point on the road to ruin and make the one change, the single alteration that would make it all turn out differently.

-Richard Fernandez

There’s something profound in that about repentance and the atonement, but I don’t quite know what. Maybe turning your sins over to Christ means finally owning that you have to write off parts of your past and even of yourself. Though in the long run, losing your life this way may be the only way to find it.

Comments (7)
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May 09th, 2011 15:42:07
7 comments

Vader
May 9, 2011

I have to confess that I’ve done just this: Dreamed of somehow going back and changing some crucial decisions.

‘Cuz I’ve had some doozies of bad decisions.


Adam G.
May 10, 2011

Haven’t we all. Makes me wonder why this isn’t a bigger theme in escapist fiction.

Actually, for me, I can’t point to many horrible decisions. Just lots of cumulatively bad decisions that spring from character flaws. When I daydream ‘what if I could go back in time . . .” the answer I usually get is that I’d be the same chump as I was the first time around.


Vader
May 10, 2011

My fear is that I’d change some things I hadn’t oughtn’t, because, painful as they were, they were necessary growing experiences.

Along with the just plain mistakes.

This idea was treated by a Star Trek – Next Generation episode (featuring “Q”, naturally, as a contemptible standin for God. Rodenberry and his minions eventually got tired of killing God, but could never leave Him alone.)

The episode was guilty of some fairly heavy-handed moralizing, which I did not much care for.


Adam G.
May 10, 2011

Vader,
I think the usual fantasy is that you as you are now, with all the growth from your past mistakes, go back and fix ‘em. Have your cake and eat it too is the idea.


Zen
May 10, 2011

I once toyed with writing a sci-fi story involving some LDS scientists with a time machine, who meet Joseph and change the present, repeatedly. Other than time and cause and effect becoming a spaghetti mess, what disturbed me was how many of our problems we could have avoided. No Martin Handcart company! But none of that pesky growth that comes with such a terrifying ordeal either. And why would any prophet need to fast for an answer to a hard problem? They could just look at the history books to know what they do in this case.

I found it too hard to disentangle necessary and unnecessary suffering, and had no way to tell which was which.

Still, it would have been a heck of a story if I could work that out.


Vader
May 10, 2011

Adam,

Certainly my fantasies take that form. But then the temptation is to “discover” some key scientific discovery, based on the foreknowledge I’d take back with me. And so on.

Zen,

Just so.


Bookslinger
May 11, 2011

Breaking with the past versus reliving it, is the crux of overcoming flashbacks, a component of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. Absent the atonement, which heals (can heal) all wounds, a sufferer often relives the events in their mind, trying to “rewrite” the memory with what they ought to have done either to prevent the event, or to better manage/react to it as it happened. Thought memory is generally malleable, the memories of traumatic events are less so.

Sometimes the suffering is compounded because the victim of the trauma reacted incorrectly to the event, causing more immediate suffering and self-blame later on, both of which can be relived in the flashbacks.

Flashbacks with their attending attempts at “rewriting” the memory can’t fix the damage. The “fix” of mind and soul has to be through the atonement.

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