The path not taken.
I am a very, very fortunate man. I have a beautiful wife who loves me. I have a son who is the cutest toddler on Earth. Together, we three are a happy family in our little New England house and life could not be more picturesque and storybook.
So, of course, my brain has started to wonder what I could have done differently.
This is not coming from a place of unhappiness or regret. I spend every day looking after a toddler, and now that he’s at an age where he can entertain himself for longer and longer stretches of time, my mind gets time to idly wander and wonder. So I start to daydream about the past. The people that I’ve known. The places I’ve been. The events that shaped me as a person. And I wonder what could have been had I done things differently at certain points in the past.
What if I’d had the courage to ask a different person out on a date? What if I had the social awareness to pick up on another person’s interest in me? What if I’d taken this risk or taken that chance instead of playing it safe? What if I never picked up and moved halfway across the country? What if I knew that a certain relationship was doomed before I bent over backwards trying to salvage it?
And in my wondering of what I could have done differently, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I had taken a different path or chosen to be with a different person it would have all ended in disappointment and regret. Not for me. For everyone else.
It’s taken a lifetime of mistakes, missteps, screw-ups, bad choices, and overall blundering to make me realize who I am. At every other point in the past when I’ve come to a crossroads, I was still trying to figure out who I was. So every other person, every other path, every other choice would have been met with a blundering fool trying to determine his own identity. Every person, path, and choice would have dealt with a version of me that was incomplete and unknowing, and that would ultimately have led to disappointment and regret for anyone and anything involved with me.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that every other person, path, and choice in my past was spared a version of me that was still giving itself shape. The choices I made all turned out to be the right ones after all, for they were the people, paths, and choices that helped me come to realize who I was, and who I am today. I’m still a work-in-progress, as are we all, but important work was done in the name of progress.
Would I have done things differently? No. I’m pleased with how I have been shaped by my choices, and so is my family. I am a very, very fortunate man for that alone.