A certain anniversary unique to me is approaching that always makes me wonder how things would have turned out if I had chosen differently. The phrase “today is the first day of the rest of your life” has always sounded kind of corny to me. But there is some truth to it. At the risk of sounding like a geek (or a bigger geek) there is an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in which a demon named Whistler talks about the biggest moments in your life. You never see them coming, but they happen whether you are ready or not.
Sometimes it’s a big event or one of those instances where time seems to slow down. But most times, it’s vague every day situations that you don’t realize are upon you until it’s too late. I can trace most of what happened in my adult life to one decision I made when I was 18 years old on September 19, 1986. It seemed like nothing at the time, but everything that came after was a direct result of that day.
If I had not made the choice I did, my life would have been different. I probably would have broken up with my high school sweetheart. We wouldn’t have gotten married. I most likely wouldn’t have moved to Boston, MA. If I had not moved there, I wouldn’t have gone to Antioch New England for graduate school. A different school would have led to a different internship.
As it was, I was having a terrible time finding a placement. Antioch was located in Keene, New Hampshire and had referral resources. The problem was that most of their contacts were in and around Keene. They had a few sites in Vermont, but nothing in the Boston area. I got so desperate I started going through the phonebook calling places one by one. I got all the way to “N” when Neww Center in Newton, MA said they had an opening. I went to the interview and got the position. That placement led me down the path to working in non-profits. A different internship would have led me in another direction professionally.
Had I not married my high school sweetheart, I wouldn’t have gotten divorced from him. (well, a big DUH to that one) Instead I found myself newly divorced and alone in Boston. I decided to move near my brother, Peter, for moral support. I started accompanying him to conventions, met my second husband, had my beautiful girls, and here I am.
If I had made a different decision on September 19, 1986 my life would have taken another path. If we are the sum of our experiences then I would be a very different person. In that one vague situation, did I know I was choosing a specific path? No I didn’t. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.
As I sat here watching the first episode of the new season of Survivor, several things struck me. First of all, in the whole “Young versus Old” thing, I would be on the Old team. I loved it when one of the youngins’ called them the “Antiques” although I find the idea of being an antique more than a little disturbing.
In the first tribal council, the Fossils had to vote off one of their own. It seemed to be between Wendie Jo and NFL coach Jimmy Johnson. Personally I think Wendie was digging her own grave with every syllable she spoke. She even seemed to be aware of it as she talked. Wendie probably thought that her non-stop chatter was a good idea at the time, but clearly she was mistaken. In her closing speech she expressed regret about how she played and the decision “not to be herself.” But at tribal council she was herself and look what happened.
I used to think about applying for Survivor, but I’m not sure how I would have done. Like Wendie Jo, I would have a difficult time pretending to be someone I’m not. As uncomfortable as I am in my own skin at times, my goofiness can not be denied. If nothing else, it’s too tiring to pretend. Much like lying, it takes too much effort which is why I seldom bother with either. Hopefully in my case tribe mates would find my odd sense of humor and quirky ability to do accents endearing. In the case of Wendie Jo, it was just plain annoying.
In the end, did the Antique tribe make the right choice by voting off Wendie Jo? Did she have some special hidden talent that could have changed the course of the game? Now Wendie is gone and they will never know. But…
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Hello and welcome to my blog. It will be filled with the musing and random thoughts that make up the oddness of my internal world.
The reason we make any decision we do is because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Afterall, we probably wouldn’t do it if we knew it was stupid. Why did I take that job? Why did I marry that person? Why did I punch that wall? It all boils down to it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The decisions we make change the course of our lives, for better or worse. When I was about to start college, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a lawyer or a therapist . My genius thinking was to take Political Science 100 and Psychology 101 and see which I liked more. Psycho 101 was taught by a quirky, entertaining man and the subject matter was interesting. Poli Sci was taught by a nasty professor who seemed to delight in humiliating his students. I answered a question (my first ever in college) and he responded “No, that’s wrong. In fact that’s the most stupid thing I ever heard.” Well that was the end of that! There was no way I was going to spend the next four years putting up with that jerk!
Just like that the decision was made. I became a human service worker and have been in the field for over 20 years. I am now the program director for the Manchester office of a non-profit called Community Enterprises, Inc. I run three vocational programs that help people with disabilities train for and find work. It’s very rewarding, but also very grueling. But on the upside, the pay sucks…
Who knows… if Poli Sci had been taught by a cute young professor who thought my answer was brilliant I would have become a lawyer and be on my way to being the first woman President of the United States. Why did I go into human services instead?
It seemed like a good idea at the time.