Do you believe in destiny? I do. But not in the way that many of you will think of it. I believe that, rather than having one great, predetermined destiny which will transcend all events, that there are crossroads at key places in our lives and that each path has a destiny all its own depending on which one you choose to take. I believe there are many possible destinies for each of us, many alternate endings.
I can think of many such crossroads in my rather short adult life. The first that comes to mind is the choice of which college to go to. I had basically two options at the time. Option A was Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. It was a beautiful campus, had a great nursing program, and had a marching band that seemed like a lot of fun. My mom and I toured it, and I even had a small scholarship lined up if I chose to go there. But it was far from home and far from my boyfriend at the time (although things were essentially wrapping up with him then, and, looking back, it shouldn’t have even really been a consideration). I had no guarantee of a job if I went there, and I didn’t even know if my beat up little VW Jetta could make the trip. It was a risk on all accounts. Option B was Boise State University. It was close to home. It had a band program I knew and loved. And they offered me more money. At the time it made the most sense to go to BSU. But looking back now I know I chose it because it was safe. It was easy. It required no risk, no leap of faith. And heaven help me if I haven’t spent the last 7 years wondering what might have been if I hadn’t gone there.
I think of the different people I might have met. The different hobbies I might have chosen. The time I might have spent by the cold beach or the cooky little job I might have found. I wonder if I’d have still chosen to go into healthcare. I wonder who I might have fallen in love with. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.
But even on this particular path that I chose, there were other forks in the road, other paths that I wonder about. I wonder, for instance, what might have happened if I’d broken things off with D after that first semester, when I had really wanted to. I felt the pull of something different – maybe something better – waiting for me, but I chose the safe, familiar path instead. I wonder what might have happened if I had chosen to try out for drum major at BSU like I had always dreamed. I might not have even been picked, but I chose to not even try. I wonder what might have happened if I’d said no that day that he knelt in front of me, with that pleading look on his face and that dreadful feeling in my heart. Each time I chose the safe, the familiar, the easy. And each time is now one I look back on with questions and regret.
I realize that I have willfully chosen each of these paths. I have been an active participant in making my life what it is today. But I have also realized that I am capable of forging a new path if I am not happy with the one I’m on.
Last year I chose to make a scary decision. I chose to leave the familiar, the easy, and to try something new. I chose to change my path. And today my life is drastically different. Many, many things have changed, mostly for the better. I chose the path that was more difficult and more exciting, and I can honestly say that I do not regret it.
And here I stand at yet another crossroads. I am faced with a decision that could change my life again if I choose to let it. I could stay here in Idaho; to do what I’ve always done and to get what I’ve always gotten. Or I can choose to move to a new state; to start a new life with a new man, to try a new job, to live in a totally unfamiliar place for the very first time in my life. I can choose the safe, the familiar, the easy. Or I can choose the different, the risky, the exciting. And after all these years of always choosing the well-beaten path, of wondering and regretting, I have no doubt about which choice I should make.
There is a good possibility that I may get to California and decide it’s not for me. I may get down there and wonder what the hell I did to myself, why I left my family and a good job. But I can say with absolute certainty that if I do not go, I will always look back on this decision and wonder. I will always ask, “What if?” And at this point I would rather risk regretting the leap than regretting that I didn’t try.
So here I go.