Twists of Fate

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.

4 thoughts on Twists of Fate

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  1. I never knew that you were a Mormon. Interesting…

    Do you ever think about how marching drum corps affected your life, and what outcomes and circumstances that created? I think about that all the time…

  2. What if I hadn’t met Gary, and you felt more comfortable at home. What if I had been there for you more when you were in High school instide of cought up in my own problems.
    It makes me feel better about the mistakes I made to see what a great life YOU made for yourself.

  3. my sister did this a few years ago, she had this huge realization that without the death of an infant, she would never have her son. it came with mixed feelings. obviously.

    Her husband was born to parents who only wanted one child. They had one, who was his older brother, and he passed away from SIDS. it was very sad. they decided to have another, and that was Mitch.

    so if that had never happened, there would be no mitch! or what if she didnt go into the coast guard? she would have never met him. so many of the people in our lives wouldnt be there if it werent for the chains of events that you sit there and think. man! what if i’d never done that?

  4. @Lauren – I do think about corps sometimes, although I don’t think I give it as much credit as other people seem to. I met some great people (including you, of course), and I got some great workouts, and I learned a lot, and I felt like I accomplished something. It’s hard for me to say how things would be different right now if I’d never done drum corps, though.

    @Mom – I had honestly never considered that I might not have gone back to college if Gary hadn’t been annoying the shit out of me that whole semester I was home. 🙂 Good point! (I guess he’s good for something besides making a Philip…)

    @sheryls – I remember you mentioning something about that, I think, when I miscarried in January ’07. I think it says something about how far I’ve come that it actually took a reminder for me to wonder: what if I had a ten-month-old child right now?