Roads and forks


A couple of things struck me recently, and I think they’re related. But I won’t know until I process it. And this is my Processing Place. And you are my unwitting victims – I  mean readers.

I was thinking about redos. About how life would be different if different decisions had been made. We can never know what paths our lives might have taken had we not taken that job, dated that guy, moved to that town. Quit that job. Broke up with that guy. On and on. Although it’s tempting to think that our lives would be better if we had done things differently, they might actually be worse. Of course, that doesn’t fit into the “grass is greener” image that most of us harbor when we look back at decisions we’ve made and wonder, “What if?”

I had a conversation with an ex once. (He’s happily married with a family, by the way.) We talked about how it’s tempting to think about what might have happened had we stayed together. But then he pointed out that there’s no way of knowing if we’d still be together today. That life can take twists and turns, and we might have eventually separated for another reason entirely.

That brings me to a picture I saw of an old friend. A friend who was, 30+ years ago, lively, beautiful, creative, funny, vivacious, crazy. I guess I expected her to always be that way. But the picture I saw today was of a matronly older woman (she’s a year older than me), and I NEVER think of myself as matronly or old. Now, I have no idea if she’s still creative and funny and crazy. She probably is. But she just doesn’t look like what I thought she would turn out to be.

I wonder what decisions she made that led her to where she is today. I wonder if there was a hidden path that took her to matronly instead of to, say, artist or vice president or supermodel. I wonder if she’s happy with where she is, if she looks back at a particular fork in the road and wonders, “What if I had taken a right there, instead of a left?”

I look back at those forks a lot, especially when I feel like a decision I made was a bad one. (My wise friend Kent says there are no bad choices, just choices. I wonder if that works for decisions, too.) Would I be a vice president in that company, if I hadn’t quit? Would I still be friends with that guy, if I hadn’t dated him? Would I be matronly, instead of – well, whatever I am today?

I know there’s no way to know. And there’s no way to go back and remake those decisions. Maybe a different decision would have made me a much happier person – or a much sadder one. I believe things happen as they’re supposed to, so I’m supposed to be where I am today. But sometimes I’m not so fond of where I am, or the path that led me here. And I do wonder, where would I be if I had taken a right there, instead of a left.

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6 Responses to Roads and forks

  1. LLH says:

    All good fodder for thought, yet Ill throw an addition into the mix: I think we all wonder what would have happened IF, but even if we had chosen that other path, decision, job, boyfriend, donut, movie, whatever, and our lives were completely different, there will always be the X factor – medical illness, natural disaster, accidents, blahblahblah, and then all the unexpected good things we have no control over as well – that really never makes our lives completely one way or the other. Also, sometimes you don’t choose the best of two things for you (stay or go, yes or no, right or left). Sometimes you are just choosing what is the best option IN FRONT OF YOU AT THE MOMENT, none of which may be great options for forever. (Sometimes IIIII forget that the Right Now is not all there is or all there is to be.) I say if you shoot for health and happiness, you are on the right path – so, it seems a bit of a waste of time looking backward at the road you’ve already traveled. Because, bottom line, you can control your decisions all you want, but its not really 100% in your hands in the end, is it?

    Miss you!

    • Beth says:

      Very true, LH. All we can do is choose from what is presented to us. And make the best decision we can at the time, with the information we have. Yeah, maybe it’s not the best for us in the future. Sometimes it’s hard to weigh all of those options logically, esp if it’s an emotional decision. I continue to try to learn to live in the NOW. I just think too much. Guess I need to think about what is, rather than what was or could have been, since I can’t control either of those!

      Love your thoughtful responses so early in the morning. And miss you too!! xoxo

      • LLH says:

        Im a huge movie buff, which you already know, and sometimes Ill go to the movies alone, one of my fave things to do, yet I don’t do it that often, and get a Diet and popcorn with candy and get there early to get my fave movie angle seat. Makes me smile just thinking about it! Then, when the movie actually starts, Ill have to literally say to myself – relax, just enjoy the movie, quit thinking about other things, forget later or work or that argument or that you forgot to pick up dog food. I should not have to do that, but I get so over-grocery-listed in my life and have such overexpectations (is that even a word) about EVERYTHING I do. I worry about what needs to be done or that they wont get done or how things SHOULD be happening (in my own little movie about my own little life in my own little mind) that I forget to just enjoy the perfection Ive created in that very moment that I am foolishly making myself miss! ARGH! Hey Beth? Enjoy your movie, will ya? 😀

        • Beth says:

          You know me too well – or we’re too much alike. I’m always looking behind or ahead, never at my feet, never what’s in front of my face. Never enjoying the movie. I keep trying to learn that lesson, but obviously I haven’t yet. Maybe we both need to work on that a little more! 🙂

  2. Julie says:

    Oooo, (or, even, ew!) 😉 Hittin’ it hard on the head this time, Beth! Guess it’s a “middle age” thing, where we get really retrospective about our past decisions, and what ifs. At least that’s what the analysts say, right?! 🙂 There has been many a saying, from time immemorial, that bids us not to live in the past, just focus on the present. Hard to do for us dreamers. We like to dream up our futures and re-dream our pasts. LLH has a good point about the roads we must follow in life. More than once, I have seen people attempt a track, bound and determined, just to have giant walls put up in front of them that they cannot get over. Then, they must re-try and follow a track that is open and clear, even if it’s not what they think they want at the time.

    • Beth says:

      Sometimes it’s hard to find that track, though, Julie. I guess it’s easier to look back than ahead. I’ll work on the latter, though!

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