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Carnett: 'Do-over life' sounds good at first blush

August 19, 2013|By Jim Carnett

What if you could do life over? Would you change anything?

Lots of things?

Filmmaker Woody Allen observed in a recent newspaper interview: "I never trust people who say, 'I have no regrets. If I lived my life again I'd do it exactly the same way.' I wouldn't."

Nor would I, Woody! I, too, have regrets (like not being 6-foot-5), and I'd do some things differently (like never eat my first nacho).

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Would I consent — as though I had the option — to being born (again) in rural Orange County, Calif., in the final months of World War II?

Yes, absolutely! It was the perfect time and place to commence life. If West Virginia, as John Denver described it, is "almost heaven" then 1950s and '60s Orange County was unadulterated nirvana. It offered perfect weather, pristine beaches, pastoral orange groves, snow-capped mountains over our backyard fences, breathtaking canyons and lots of space.

No, I'd make my first detour at age 4. That's when my parents enrolled me in kindergarten. The second time around I'd advise them to wait a year. As it turned out, I graduated from high school at 17. A late bloomer, I didn't catch up physically or intellectually with my peers until my freshman year in college (and some posit that that still hasn't happened).

As a result, my immature pre-college grades were so-so, and my undersized physique precluded athletic achievement.

With more attention paid to high school academics, I might have been accepted at a university like UCLA, Syracuse or Virginia. A four-year East Coast education surely would have changed me. But for the better?

At 19, I did attend an East Coast institution, albeit a U.S. Army school in New York. I spent three years in the military — and grew up.

I came home and earned an associate degree at Orange Coast College, a bachelor's degree at Cal State Fullerton and a master's degree at Pepperdine. I don't disparage those experiences — they were perfect for my circumstances — but living four years in an ivy-covered environment was a dream never realized.

Looking back, I might opt for a different college major. I majored in communications. With a restart, I'd perhaps settle on a foreign language. Or international relations. Or history.

No matter the major, next time I'd definitely learn French and Spanish.

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