Thursday, November 04, 2010

Chance and Choice

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about the serendipity of chance encounters and the decisions I’ve made along the way that have gotten me to this point in time.  They are so intricately connected.  I wonder where I would be today if even one of them had happened differently.

Here are just a few that impacted by life:

-- After 11th grade, went to “Math Camp” at FSU, where I discovered computer programming and confirmed that I would major in math.
-- Took Tennis to satisfy my PE requirement at FSU, where I met my first serious boyfriend.  He got an A. I got a C.  
-- Summer of 1971 in Athens, Greece, got a letter from my best childhood friend inviting me to live in her group house in DC.  Otherwise I might have stayed in the Florida panhandle forever in my WASPish cocoon.
-- Got two job offers in DC, but took the lower paying job because I thought it would be more interesting.  
-- Met a big shot in the Commerce Department on my bus as I rode to work at my despicable job at the FBI.  Within 2 weeks had 3 job offers.
-- Went for a job interview at the Census Bureau, where the first face I saw was that of the man who would become my husband almost 5 years later.
-- When we became serious, I looked for another job and ended up with a position in the international area of the Census Bureau, where I was paid to become fluent in French and Spanish and then get to travel around the world for 15 years.
-- When we were looking for our first house in 1977, found a house on the market for 3 months with what seemed like a ridiculously high price tag of $80K.  We have lived here ever since.
-- While babysitting in our neighborhood co-op, met a family whose children went to school on a farm.  Thus began years of private school so my children could watch animals be born and learn without the pressure of grades for many years.
-- At an employee’s suggestion, took my first yoga class at least 10 years ago.  
-- At my yoga teacher’s suggestion, got my first massage and met Reya.
-- From Reya learned about Blogging.
-- Met Bill through meditation, who introduced me to Deborah, who has been my musical partner ever since.
-- After 25 years of going through the motions, joined Temple Micah and started really practicing Judaism.
-- Through a choir member, found Anadel, my piano teacher.

There are many, many more.  It is so apparent to me that if any one of these things had happened differently, my life would not be the same.  That’s not to say it wouldn’t be as good, but just different.

Sometimes I try to invent stories around a different set of encounters and choices, much in the style of “Groundhog Day.”  I ask what would have happened if I had married the first boyfriend?  If I hadn't interviewed at the Census Bureau?  If I hadn't met Reya, although we are no longer friends? If I hadn't started writing?  If I  hadn't found Deborah and learned to love playing music with others?  But they remain just stories, because the reality is that we are who we are because of our life experiences, for better or for worse (but hopefully for better!).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can blow myself away just by thinking about the fact that at any moment, a fan-shaped field of nearly infinite paths lies in front of us. Every second, we're making countless choices, conscious or otherwise, each of which propels us in a certain direction, creating a zillion more possible paths -- forever and ever. It's both daunting and freeing!


11:22 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

All of life seems like a series of happy meetings. The bad ones? Well, let's just forget about them or focus on the good found as a result of them.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

The smallest things make the biggest differences. Amazing.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Did you ever read Richard Bach's One, about all the paths we might have taken?

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've followed interesting paths. I'm glad you came to the DC house.


10:16 AM  
Blogger e said...

Looking at this, were you happy with those decisions at the time? I seem to suffer from greater indecision now simply because I have too many choices--daunting as someone pointed out.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I love thinking about these kinds of things. Sometimes I also think about how my choices have affected others. We are all so interconencted.

I LOVED reading this post because I think I learned more here about your background than I ever knew before.

If you haven't read Bach's One take Pauline's (always brilliant) advice and read it. I am a huge Richard Bach fan.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline, Gary -- If you are both recommending this book, I will have to read it! I find this sort of thinking so interesting.

12:33 AM  

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