As I approach my 34th birthday, I cannot help but reflect on where I am in my life. It’s certainly not where I thought I’d be 20, 10, even 5 years ago — and that’s OK.
I’m where I need to be.
But, the curious little girl in me cannot help but imagine my life trajectory had I done things differently along the way to 34. There are no regrets in this sort of reflection. It’s more of a hypothetical “What if?”
What if I had applied to Northwestern University as pre-med, instead of as a journalism major?
What if I had married my first love, at the tender age of 23?
What if I took that $8-and-hour on-air reporting job in Eau Claire, Wisconsin? Or $25,000-a-year anchor job in Billings, Montana?
What if I moved to Los Angeles in my early 20’s?
What if I hadn’t opted to walk to my North Avenue beach volleyball game that day after work, and stumbled upon a stranger who would prove a fabulous fling?
What if I continued to pursue political producing and worked on Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign?
What if I hadn’t pulled out my camera during a ladies night, to show off photos of my (now ex) boyfriend, and unraveled the secret that he was cheating on me?
What if I quit my job two years ago, when I was oh-so close to doing so?
What if I hadn’t traveled to India last year?
What if I didn’t enroll in the Moksha Teacher Training program?
These are just a smattering of the “What ifs?” that popped into my head tonight. I don’t linger on them too long. I just have fun posing them.
It reminds me that I control my destiny — or so I think. And that these are my decisions to make — or so I think.
How much of this is pure will power and choice, versus a destiny that’s pre-determined? Now there’s a doozy of a question, one where I swing both ways.
There is a movie called Sliding Doors. I saw it a while ago, and loved the concept. Basically, it parallels the two very different lives of Gwyneth Paltrow’s character: 1) had she caught the train home; versus 2) had she missed the train home. That simple moment — catching the train or not catching it — would send her life on two different paths.
It’s amazing how seemingly mundane moments and decisions — catching a train, not catching a train — can so deeply affect the trajectory of our lives. Every moment really does matter.
I think about that with my life. There are many, many, many sliding doors — both big and small. If I walk down this street or that street, what may be the outcome? Who might I meet? What might I witness? What might I learn?
Case and point: The Friday morning two years ago when I opted to ride my Vespa to work, despite the light drizzle. I got into an accident that left a permanent scar on my left knee and taught me not to be so cavalier while riding. Had I that morning decided to ride the train, would I have learned that lesson another way, another time?
Every little moment in my life, every little decision, is significant, is precious, is wonderful.
Sure, I’m not a news anchor happily married with five kids at the age of (almost) 34 — a life that I mapped out for myself before starting college.
I’m right where I need to be.