Friday, February 23, 2007

In an alternate universe ...

I am inordinately attracted to stories that involve "What If" premises. Favorite movie is It's a Wonderful Life. Favorite Star Trek stories include "The City on the Edge of Forever" and "Yesterday's Enterprise." You get the picture. I'm fascinated by the idea of what woulda/coulda/shoulda happened if one thing changed - so sometimes I get to daydreaming what would have happened if I made one decision differently.

* If I'd stuck with wifey #1, would we be celebrating our 28th anniversary this year, or would we have split somewhere farther down the line?

* Wifey #1 and #2 both said I'd make a great father, but we never got around to testing that theory. What if we had? How would my life choices have been different with the motivation (or distraction) of having children to raise?

* I got my first job four days before I graduated from college, averting the need to head back to my home state 1,000 miles away and enabling me to make a life in my adopted home state. How different a person would I be today if I'd gone home with Mom and Dad?

* I left my first job for more money after five months, and six months after that a guy from a much larger city called me to talk about a third job. I said I didn't want to get a rep for job-hopping so I turned him down flat. What if we'd talked? Where would I be today?

* Ten years ago I walked out on a job over what I considered intolerable conditions - still do - leaving a career that had occupied 22 years of my life. I rose much farther and faster in the first five years of my new career than I'd managed in the two decades of my first career. What if I'd never gotten so frustrated by those intolerable conditions - or what if I'd decided to stick it out?

* What if I'd decided from the get-go I didn't want a job and went to work for myself?

A guy can get lost in alternate-scenario fantasies. My life might be better, could be worse. Bottom line, as Eliot says so memorably in E.T. - "This is reality." It is what it is. There's a book that first appeared in my formative years that I never read, partially because everything you need to know is in its title: Be Here Now. Terrific advice. Daydream about the past and future if you must - and you must, because it's impossible to avoid those thoughts - but the more alive you are in the present moment, the more you will live today.


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