Friday, February 27, 2015
The Pang of What Might Have Been
Are we living in those days of "what might have been?" Are you?
Doesn't do much good to dwell there, does it? What's done is done and what was done was done for a good reason, or even many good reasons, at the time....
Not sure if experience, chapters in life, major changes, shifts, etc. in our existence or life experience can bring on such thoughts one has not really had much before. There is a sense that we will only be here once, so maybe we will most miss what we didn't do more than we will regret what we did do -- that is, if we have tried to live honestly, kindly, right.
I don't know if the quote above is correctly attributed to Eliot or not. It's a strange thought that you could still "be what you might have been." Time kind of takes care of that, doesn't it? It's not like you get a do-over in life, at least in terms of one's age. I suppose some do-overs are definitely possible. You can eat better, exercise more, be kinder, learn something new, change where you live or who your friends are. Lots of things can change all through life.
Probably the quote is meant to give hope to one's aspirations. If you dream of "being" one thing or another, it is never too late. In many ways, it never is. But in other ways, it certainly gets harder, and in still other ways, it's probably best to face that it's not going to happen, and maybe it shouldn't.
There do seem to be "other lives" all within this one life we each have. Different circumstances, people. Childhood, e.g. seems to be "one life" we live. Young adulthood, perhaps, another. Perhaps lives as parents, for those who had that experience. People we see every day shift and change, seemingly in blocks of time. People who become important to us may stay or go. We get new jobs, lose loved ones to death or distance, move to a new location.
Have you been someone who has held on to old friends all through your life, or have you allowed your new circumstances, environments, etc. to loosen the bonds with others you once knew well? Have there been leaps in your life, in station, educational or economic status, interests, etc. that meant the transition with others in the earlier chapters of your life became difficult or just didn't happen?
When you think about it, there are probably only a handful of key decisions in our lives that impact our lives in a significant way. Lots of smaller things, of course, but some are big. If you find yourself looking back at any of these and wondering "what might have been" had you made a different choice, does that mean you made the wrong one? Or could it just mean you are curious? Reflective? Got too much time on your hands? Ha.
Well. To anyone out there wondering "what might have been," I can say that you are not alone. The thinking person, it seems to me, has to ponder this at least once in life. Usually, hopefully, we can see we made decisions that were important and made them well, or at least learned from them.
Looking back is not always easy; memories are not always cast in a fuzzy, warm glow. If more of your memories are that way than not, you can probably feel pretty good. If more are the other way, then perhaps there is more work for you to do. Perhaps we all have more work to do -- certainly, yes -- and that is part of the entire experience of life.
Either way things look for you, I wish you well, Dear Reader. Don't dwell too long in the land of "what might have been."
Better to cast your focus on "what yet could be." Let's agree we'll try to do that; shall we?!