It might have been

When we first were looking to move to this area we first looked at buying a house in a city around 30 miles north of where we ended up. We were getting close to putting in an offer when we were suddenly nudged in another direction. When I walked into the house we’re living in now it felt like home. Though there are times I’ve questioned the wisdom of buying that particular house, I have no complaints about the area.

But now and then I can’t help but wonder what our life would have been like had we settled up north. Who would our friends be now? What would we think of our children’s school? Where would we do our shopping? Would we have found different interests? Something as simple as where you live can put your life on an entirely different trajectory.

I know I’d be even more sick of the snow than I am now. Up north they get at least twice what we get, due to the “lake effect”. We got four or five inches of snow last night. They got a foot. One of my colleagues at work just showed me pictures of the piles of snow in their area from clearing off their driveways. Some are fourteen feet high already.

But when you look at it, much of the direction of our lives can be attributed to where we decide to live. When I bought a house in Boise, where we used to live, that one decision put me in touch with people who have become some of the best and longest friendships in my life, not to mention leading to becoming part owner in a game store that remains some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my professional life.

Life really is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, except you don’t get to back up and try the different paths to see which one you liked best. My life could look so different from the one I have if I had just made a few different choices.

That’s not to say I would change any of those choices. For every possibility I missed to become rich, handsome, and well-connected, I may also have missed the turn that would have led to poverty, despair, or even death. There is just no way to know, so I don’t stress over it too much. Daydream and speculate, sure. But even then, it always leads right back to the same spot; I like what I’ve got enough that I wouldn’t want to risk any of it by changing something.

Strange, then, how I look at the future entirely differently. Every choice I make could be leading me somewhere worse, but I still can’t bring myself to just coast forward and let what happens happen. The future is for seizing, and while my grip can be rather limp at times, I still hang on in the hope that it can be wrestled into submission, or at least worn down. I probably won’t know any better then than I do now if things could have been better with a different decision, but I guess there’s something about my psyche that prefers things be on my terms when given the choice.

It may be a bad decision, but at least it’ll be the bad decision I can best live with.