Thursday, May 21, 2009

Paths


I was going to ask – do you ever wonder where you would be RIGHT now if you had chosen a different path? But then I realized the question answers itself – I don’t believe there is a person alive that doesn’t at some point speculate where they might right now had they made different choices way back when….

What is an even MORE interesting exercise is ask someone CLOSE to you to speculate where you might have ended up had you made different choices.

D. intriguingly thought I would be unmarried, no children and immersed in a career. I’m not sure why I was surprised at his prediction as he was correct that before my very first child I was NEVER one to yearn for children nor seek the white picket fence life. I was driven, ambitious, competitive and a workaholic.

While I liked babies well enough, I never as a child or teenager or young woman had a desire to propagate them nor in any way desired the stability of married life nor the reality (and what I perceived the stultified existence) of what I saw as a “mundane” life.

Truth be told, I was intense, passionate and highly aggressive when it came to a career.

The choice came as I finished up my Master’s. It was take the offer of a full scholarship to an American University to pursue my PhD or follow D. to Toronto, getting married beforehand. Well, it is obvious I picked the latter but in hindsight, he is PROBABLY right – had he not been in the picture I probably would have taken advantage of the scholarship – which would have lead me to a VERY different path than the one I now tread.

How odd to think of it!

Because there are so many other factors that would come into play.

I have what my parents always termed “tinker’s feet”. Perhaps as a result of a childhood spent in various countries, moving on a whim, travelling extensively but I developed a penchant for it.

Due to the realities of life, my travelling forays pretty well came to a screeching halt and one of my still aching held regrets revolves around the lack of exposure to new countries, cultures and milieus – not just for me but it is like a physical ache that my kids and D as well have never had the opportunities I had. I very much suspect had I pursued a PhD I would have ended up here, there and everywhere as the world is out there for people with advanced degrees and a lack of inhibitions when it comes to exploring it.

While I am cognizant that musing on possibilities is both pointless and in some respects, counter-productive, it sometimes provides food for thought. Because it occurs to me in considering past choices, that in some ways, I have lost sight of some intrinsically personal personality traits that defined in large part who I am.

The whole “mid-life” crisis thing is not always just full of negatives and clichés. The reality is some of us reach an age where there is more behind than ahead and as the realization filters through our workaday brains that we’re on the other side of the hill, it urges us to pause at the top of that hill and look back at where we’ve been.

And distance – metaphysical and real – can sometimes give perspective. Add perspective, throw in life experience, sweeten with maturity and then a dash of sorrow and you end up with a viewpoint that is often remarkably distant from your original intent. Oddly, negative experiences can be even more powerful in providing insight and illumination and the past few years have provided rich opportunities to me to contemplate the realities of life.

Most profound about this new awareness is the understanding that life continues to evolve, that each of us continues to change and the future remains open to interpretation, choice and determination. In short, our future is OURS to create and it is WE who are responsible for making the choices.

I believe it is within our grasp to seriously explore our own psyches and find what motivations, what urgings, what needs we have failed to succour and decide whether the consequences are worth the impetus to change.

At the end of it all, there are consequence and impact to every choice made – even the ones we refuse to make and no one but ourselves can be held responsible for the unfolding of new paths … or keeping our trudging steps in the ruts of the old.

6 comments:

Liras said...

Either/or. Neither/nor.

The ONLY problem with different choices then is that we would have a different Selkie on our hands.

I quite fancy this current one.

selkie said...

I don't think anyone has ever said anything nicer, thank you - truly - and don't get me wrong, there are no regrets ... I made the choices and there have been some wonderful byways in my journey thus far.

Buffalo said...

If it were not for a blister it is unlikely I would be sitting at a computer in Canada.

Choices and choices that aren't choices. Life is a grand game, isn't it?

gabby said...

Selkie -- once again you have touched me deeply with your writing and this one actually required some tissue -- I'm such a sap today! This topic is something I have thought about so many times recently. What I come down to every time is that I don't really have any regrets for the paths I've chosen because without walking those roads I would not have ended up where I am today which is with a Master who I love deeply and find unfathomable fulfillment in serving.

I still have some serious paths to walk and the consequences of walking those paths will most likely be painful but the pain will lead me to great joy. My Master has similar paths he must walk as well. My prayer is that both of those paths will converge into one that He and I will walk together. I do have a contentment that destiny will take care of us and that we will find that joint path that fulfills both of our needs.

Thank you again for your wonderful writing and for sharing it with us!

Hugs,

gabby

Gillette said...

I can think of four major forks, all which involved choices that completely changed my life.

I believe I am in another of those times and spaces right now. The path is still uncertain and we come up against another mini fork next week.

What I am trying to say is that I don't think they ever stop...as you say we keep evolving.
There are time that appear to be "stagnant" but they aren't. Sometimes the cauldron must simmer for a bit...or a long bit...before the soup is really good and ready to serve.

Tallgrass said...

It is so hard to understand how we ended up doing what we do and being where we are. Choices, circumstances, dumb luck or bad luck, it is all a gift.