Saturday, December 6, 2008

Revisit the Past

The other day I was minding my own business, keeping to myself, not getting in anybody's way. Out of nowhere I hear a beep on my computer signaling that I had just received a new email. The message was from a researcher in Germany who had some questions about a paper that I published some time ago. In fact, the paper was based on my Ph.D. thesis project. I set about answering the questions when I realized that it would be best to send them a copy of my thesis for reference. I went to the directory where all of the files for my thesis are kept and realized that I could not create an electronic file from what I had. In fact, it took me about 3 days to take what I had and whip it into shape so that I had a document suitable for transmittal. During this rework, I came across a few typos, some grammatical errors, and some style problems that I could not believe escaped my careful inspections lo those many years ago. Looking back at this moment from the past caused me some pain and anguish.

This exercise made me think about looking back on my actions of the past. I would like to think that I try to conduct myself in all sitations with the attitude that I would not be ashamed for anyone to know what I did or said. In short, I should not be disturbed by anyone taking a closer look at my behavior or actions in any situation. Of course this is what I would like to think. In reality, my behavior, action, and words in way too many past situations would cause me to sink in shame, cringe in embarrassment, or shake in disgust. Can any of us look back at moments of our past without any shame, embarrassment, or disgust? We all know the answer to this question. The solution is to take time to think more carefully about what you do and say before you act. Trust me, it is very hard (i.e. nearly impossible) to take back hurtful words or undo selfish acts.