Taking the fork in the road

 

I donít believe in regrets.

Not in the true sense. Though I absolutely understand what they are, and I fully agree many people have them. For me, however, it gets a bit more complicated (and as a result, that much easier).

Most of us look at regrets as the choices we didnít make, the actions we didnít take, or some combination of the two. Itís the ďI should have done thatĒ idea. Which, sure, clean and straightforward.

The problem with it, in my opinion, is that life doesnít move in a direct, straight line. Itís not a flow chart. Not an if this than that, insert tab one into slot two, run of dominoes where the decision to knock down one automatically and always leads to the rest of them falling.

Just because you want to have children or get married does not mean you will do either. Or, one person in a relationship prefers to live in a city on the east coast while the other wants to be rural on the west coast, and essentially a decision needs to be made once that great job offer arrives.

This is not saying you canít have plans. Not saying you canít have preferences. Not saying that certain resultsóa home with land, a partner in marriage, kidsóarenít going to be things you hold as nonnegotiable, nonstarters.

What I am saying is occasionally the paths and results change. Occasionally they donít work out as you expect. Occasionally you donít have 2.4 kids, 1.75 cars and a decorative fence surrounding a half-acre of land.

Because of this, I believe that when we make choices in our lives, we do so with the information we have on hand at the time. You have your desires, love your partner, you make your sacrifices. When you reach the fork in the road, and you pick a path, that often means the other path is closed. Itís not a regret, itís the road not taken.

I came out of college with what I loosely referred to as my roller coaster theory. Concept works like this: Ride the roller coaster. Travel. Have experiences. Because you arenít guaranteed an exceptionally long life, lots of money, and good health. Ride it now while you can. Because you may not be able to later.

As a theory, it has some areas in need of refinement. I would readily agree with such a critique. But it works. And it expands. Moves into those places where itís saying to enjoy your life and appreciate the things you have.

Life doesnít wait. Clocks are still running, even when youíve paused everything to take a deep breath. Yes, sure, absolutely, be thoughtful and take the time you need to make decisions. Respect others. But donít lose out on something wonderful by waiting too long.

That fork in the road? Every so often, you find out that while you were stopped, trying to look down each stretch of road, and eventually didnít have enough time to do it allÖ wellÖ if you had just gotten started, the road looped around and you would have had time to cover the whole thing. While you paused, life was moving on without you. If you had taken a chance, you would have had close to it all.

Take from that what you will.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com