It’s so easy to say things like, “I don’t know where I’d be today if it weren’t for [fill in the blank].”
It’s much more interesting to actually give it some thought.
Sometimes, I like to trace things backward and realize what an amazing combination of circumstance and decisions brought me to where I am today. The realization makes my life that much more amazing.
For instance (and I’ve used this one often), there was a bizarre string of happenstance that brought me together with Aaron. If any one thing hadn’t fallen into place just so, we would most likely never have met. Tracing things backward on my end, if I’d never flunked out of college for a semester, I might never have gotten Mary as a roommate, and thus might never have been introduced to Aaron.
Of course, I suppose it could be argued that Chance may well have played into my favor, and I might have gotten Mary as a roommate that year anyway by the luck of the draw. So, how about Aaron’s side of it? What if that girl he sat next to in class at UT had called him just a few weeks earlier, and they’d gone out to coffee before I managed to e-mail him? He could have been off the market before I even had a chance.
Again, it could be argued that maybe they wouldn’t have hit it off, and I still would have gotten a date with him. The chain can go back even further, though: what if I’d actually been accepted to one of my first-choice colleges (Oberlin College or the New England Conservatory of Music)? There would have been little to no chance for us to meet in either Oberlin or Boston; yet I would have thought at the time that I’d reached my goal and gotten the best possible outcome. Considering that I wasn’t as musically talented as I’d thought I was (big-fish-little-pond syndrome), going to an all-music school might not have been the best choice for me, anyway, even beyond not meeting my future husband.
Although some people might think this is an exercise in futility, or just a time-sink of sorts, I like to think of it as “counting my blessings,” so to speak. And the “what if”s can apply to so many different areas of life:
- What if I hadn’t lost my job at Sky Bank? Would I ever have really gotten into Information Services, even though I was working on an internal database for the loan department?
- What if I’d never even been called by Manpower to work at Sky Bank in the first place? What if I’d kept working third-shift at the Meijer gas station instead (which, incidentally, was an ultimate low point for me)? Or, would I have been offered a different temp job instead, and never have applied at Meijer?
- What if I hadn’t taken that Sociology 101 course in college, or what if someone else had been teaching it? What if the TA had never mentioned religion at all? Would I still be a Mormon (or at least a Christian) today?
It’s fun to think about so many of the better, worse, and different outcomes. In an alternate reality, maybe there’s a me who got married in the Mormon temple and is a stay-at-home mom with three kids. Maybe there’s an alternate me who actually moved out to California and is working as a developer in Silicon Valley. Maybe an alternate me is fit and trim, for whatever reason.
It really can be fun to contemplate, especially when weird things happen in life. What choice or circumstance is this event paving the way for later? What am I going to wish I had done sooner (or not done at all) in another five or ten years? What good can come of this?
Maybe I think too much. But that’s OK. That’s just who I am.