A couple years ago I read a blog post somewhere about looking back on points in your life and wondering if or how things may have turned out different had you made a different choice. As we think about it, it’s amazing how seemingly insignificant some of the decisions appear at the time. For example, had I rented the other apartment I looked at in 1980 would I have met my wife (who was my next door neighbor where I did rent)?
That blog post has been in my mind the last several days because my oldest daughter is approaching significant crossroads. She applied at what she considered the four best schools for the graduate program she wants to pursue, hoping to get into one or two. She was accepted and offered a graduate assistantship at all four. The winnowing process leads to our current trip to Indiana University.
Part of me is envious of her being able to start on another branch of the road to the future. Yet an even larger part shares the trepidation she must feel making a decision she knows will unquestionably impact the balance of her life. Some factors are objective, such as the type of emphasis the program may have or the financial aid package that’s offered. Yet the choice ultimately is made up largely of intangibles. What kind of “feel” do you get from the faculty and current students? How does the community strike you? Is this too close to or too far from home or where she wants to end up?
You also wonder if there is anything to the concept of fate or predestination. Are some of our major decisions just part of a script that’s been written for us? I tend to think not and still occasionally wonder where I would be today had I, for example, taken that job as the education beat reporter in Independence, Mo., some 25+ years ago. At least the rear view mirror provides an advantage my daughter doesn’t have. I know where I’ve been, not wondering where in the world I will end up.
And the world is busting at its seams
And you’re just a prisoner of your dreams
“Night,” Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run