Second Chance

“What would you do with your second chance?”

Imagine for a second that you are not the bright-eyed, twenty-ish undergraduate but, rather, on the cusp of retirement. You’ve just got out of your self-driving car and begin cooking your genetically-engineered meal and reminisce about the past.

Illustration by Daniele Tonon
Illustration by Daniele Tonon

You think about all the things you’ve done, and haven’t done. The successes and memories you have shared with your loved ones and the trips and amazing experiences that you have had. But then you may also start to think about some of the things you might have done differently, those you have lost, the opportunities you might have missed. I can take a guess at what they may be:

In 2067, you will wish that you had laughed more, given more and cared less. You’ll wish that you had told those that you loved how much they meant to you more often and how much they really meant to you. You’ll wish you had said ‘yes’ to more things (you may even vaguely recall the phrase YOLO and chuckle about how it’s meaning actually has some merit). You will wish you had seen more of the world and experienced more new things. That you had used the gifts and the time that you were granted to inspire others and make the world better.

Suddenly a genie appears in front of you, magic lamp in hand and ascertains that your regrets are valid and that you are a good person. He states that he is willing to give you a second chance at life. To relieve it knowing what you know now. You undoubtedly agree and your wish is granted.

All of sudden you find yourself sitting right here: reading this article. It is January 2017. You are amazingly pain-free and energetic. It really happened. The genie granted your wish to relive your life. You have the chance to do everything over again, to have the same successes but appreciate what you had while you had it. You can optimise. You can indeed laugh more, give more and care less. Your parents are here and it is your chance love them like you should have done the first time around. You can be everything that you had wanted for all these years.

Now, you, the soon-to-be graduates of some of the best universities in the UK, the future of the country and the young wizards of our time, what will you do with your second chance?

Note: the idea for this article is heavily based on Sal Khan’s 2012 MIT graduation commencement address (I know, I am a nerd).