A short, po­tent en­quiry about go­ing back and chang­ing one thing in your life if you could.

Living Now - - Living & Learning - By Les­lie Caplan

We were sit­ting in the yard un­der a lean­ing, fanned-out tree bend­ing low to shel­ter us from the pierc­ing sum­mer sun. I searched the sky for an an­swer to the ques­tion she posed. “If you could go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?” Im­ages flashed be­fore my eyes like a sped-up slide show. No space be­tween them.

“I wouldn’t change any­thing”, I heard my own voice whis­per in­side my head. Ev­ery ac­tion, still­ness, mo­ment of mo­tion or noth­ing­ness brought me to this mo­ment. No mind to the scars. They give aes­thet­ics to my soul. Still, I knew there must be some­thing I’d go back and change that wouldn’t set me on a course of be­ing a dif­fer­ent per­son than I am now. I leaned into the trunk of the tree. I traced the lines on my palm with my fin­ger­tip as if they were brail, sen­si­tis­ing to the dips in skin, the raised cal­loused trails of my jour­ney this far.

“I wouldn’t have got­ten my tat­toos”, I fi­nally said out loud. She moved to­ward me, stretch­ing her fin­gers out like magic wands and traced the tat­too over my heart with a soft touch.

“This one is a Ba­li­nese sym­bol”, I said as she stud­ied the de­tails of it with her soft green eyes. A tear leaked from her left eye and rolled down her cheek.

“It’s over ev­ery door­way of a home and tem­ple in Bali sym­bol­is­ing that when you en­ter, you do so in a sa­cred way. That’s why it’s here, over my heart”, I said.

She bowed her head to en­ter my heart in a sa­cred way. She’d been in­side it for decades and al­ways came in with rev­er­ence.

“Well, maybe not this tat­too”, I said. “I’d keep this one.”

“I wouldn’t have grabbed my son by the shirt when he was seven years old, so hard it left a red mark on his neck.” I dropped my head to­ward my chest. She scooted in next to me, shoul­der to shoul­der and leaned against me like I leaned on the tree. She was lis­ten­ing with her whole body. The tear that fell from the light in her eyes be­came mine. She said my eyes turned black like ob­sid­ian, glass-like, as they welled with what we called ‘ holy wa­ter’.

“You were an amaz­ing mom and still are.” She blew that sen­tence into my ear like it was a kiss off the palm of her hand. I told her I apol­o­gised to

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