The grim face of the Lieutenant Commander tells the story as he carries the motionless body of his commanding officer into sickbay. With a little extra effort, he manages to lift the captain onto the medical table. The Lieutenant backs out of the way as the emergency room medical staff converges on the critically injured Captain. As they take his vital signs, it’s evident, with the large burned and bloody area surrounding his upper chest, that he is in grave condition. The medical teams’ urgency increases as the patient’s vital signs begin to rapidly decrease.

Suddenly, there is complete silence. The once unconscious and motionless captain is now awake, standing, and pain-free.  Everything around him is white. Very bright. He attempts to look around, however, his eyes can’t penetrate the blinding light. Finally, his eyes catch the glimpse of a figure in the distance. Instinctively, the man walks toward the figure like a moth is drawn to the light. The closer the captain gets, the more the outline of the figure takes shape. Although he still is unable to see a face, the shape resembles a man. By the time the captain gets an arms-length away, the figure stretches out his hand. The captain reciprocates, and as their hands’ touch, his face is finally revealed. Next, are the words no human is ever ready for. This case was no different.

 “Welcome to the afterlife, Jean-Luc. You’re dead!” the being said.

Full disclosure, this is from an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation. And before you tune me out, it will all make sense soon.

As it turned out, the person the captain meets in the “Afterlife”, was a very familiar character named, “Q”. Q is a very powerful being that can just about do anything at the snap of his fingers. He visits Captain Picard from time to time because he has an interest in the development of humanity.

Q explains that Captain Picard has died on the medical table due to a malfunction with his mechanical heart. Captain Picard doesn’t believe that he is dead, but he seems to grimace at the notion that his death was caused by the mechanical device. Sensing that Picard was irritated at the mention of the word heart, Q probes into the backstory of why he needed the mechanical device installed.

Collecting his thoughts, Picard tells the story of his youth some thirty years before, when he was 21 years ago. He described himself, back then as an arrogant, undisciplined, egotistic, cocky, and unwise youth. This was a far cry from now, as he is a fifty-something, serious, career-focused, unmarried, and reserved captain of the best ship in the fleet.

As a young officer, Picard started a fight with three, very large, short-tempered thugs in a bar. He held his own for a while, until one of the three came from behind, and impaled him with a knife damaging his heart. He said that if he was more responsible in those days, he would not have needed the mechanical heart.

After Picard finished his story, Q’s ears perked up. “Is that a regret I hear?” the inquisitive being gloated.

The captain explained that he regrets many things from that time in his life. Then he said that if he had to do it all over again, things would be different.

This episode really struck a nerve with me because of one word. Regret. I’m not sure if I have met anyone who said that they never had a single regret. However, I know I have many.

Have you ever asked yourself, what is that one regret that you wish you could go back and change? I know what you may say, “I have a lot more than just one regret.” Yes, and I do too, but what is the one regret that if you could go back and change, your life would be different?

Well, for me, I would also go back many years when I was younger. Without going into too many details, let’s just say that I passed on an opportunity that could have totally changed my life. There are many times that I imagined that I went for the opportunity, it panned out, and many of the problems and struggles in my life would have been adverted. Although it would have been nice, I’ve come to realize that the biggest regret I had about passing on the opportunity was not if it panned out, but for the reason, I didn’t do it. It was fear.

I know I’ve written a previous article about fear. However, in my case, it crippled me for years. For years I would pass on other opportunities not looking at the fact that I could succeed, but I looked at the possibility that I could fall.

I would watch different movies and television shows, showing the main character getting a second chance in life to make their past mistakes, right. I can’t count how many times I thought, “I wish that was me.” There were times that I would have replaced the years that I had already lived, for the chance to live that alternate life.

I can’t remember off the top of my head when and how many times I did it, but I’m almost certain that I prayed to get that second chance as I saw in the movies at least once or twice. I’m sure that I reminded GOD that HE could do all things, and if HE gave me a second chance, I would be thankful. But it never happened.

So, why did I like that Star Trek episode so much? Well, Q took Captain Picard up on his offer that things would be different if he got the opportunity. Q placed him back two days before the fight that injured him and gave him the chance to change the outcome.

Captain Picard re-lived the same experiences that he had before, but with the maturity and wisdom, he had as an older man. He was successful in changing the events that led to the fight. Therefore, he totally prevented the fight and the injury. However, in doing so, he also alienated all of his friends and sabotaged other relationships he had. Q also allowed him to see the changes in his current life after changing the past.

Picard served on the same ship as he did before. He was an officer; however, he was no longer the Captain. In fact, all of those he once commanded, were now his commanding officers. He worked an unassuming job as a junior officer that never got noticed. When he asked a couple of his former officers if they saw any potential for him to serve in a future command position, they said, “No.”

Very dissatisfied with the alternate life he saw himself in, Picard asked Q that he wanted his old life back. When Q reminded him that he died on the medical table, Picard made an interesting statement. He said, “I would rather die the man I was than to live the life that I just saw.”

Captain Picard didn’t die on the medical bed in sickbay. He recovered from his injuries, mechanical heart and all. The Star Trek Next Generation episode is called “Tapestry”. Captain Picard didn’t like some of the strands of his life. However, when he pulled on them, the strands began to unravel the tapestry of his life.   

The definition for the word regret is: To be sorry, repent.

In the Bible, I think of Adam, Abraham, Moses, and David. All had great success, but they also had great failures. I’m certain they had regrets. If they were allowed to pull on the strands of their lives perhaps many of their great successes may have unraveled as well.

This may come as a surprise to you, but do you know who also had regrets? GOD. In Genesis 6: 6 (KJV), the Bible says, “And it repented the LORD that HE had made man on the earth, and it grieved HIM at HIS heart.” This passage is not the only time GOD repented in HIS heart. There are other times as well. But we must ask how did GOD handle it? HE can do all things. If anyone could change circumstances, it’s GOD. However, instead of going back and starting over again, HE decided to move forward. HE took what HE had, and made it work. For example, Adam and Eve, Noah, the Israelites in the wilderness, and you and I made mistakes, but HE didn’t erase us and start over again.

As for me, I no longer have a desire to go back and change my life over regrets. Much like Captain Picard, I wanted to pull the strands in my past, and the important things in my life would have possibly unraveled. I used the past experiences of fear to motivate me to overcome it. Whenever fear attempts to bully me into cowardness, I remember the opportunity that I missed listening to fear. If it wasn’t for that learning experience, and the strands of the tapestry of my life, I may not have the relationship I have with GOD, my church, my friends, or my wife. Because of that, I must say that I would rather die being the man I am today than the man I might have been.

G. Edward Wyche

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *