As I have gotten older, I have a tendency to look back at the road I have traveled with curiosity. A lot has happened in the 70 years of my incarnation this time. There have been plenty of good times and plenty of not-so-good times. There are those moments when I feel regret. Regret that perhaps I could have made a better choice. Then the question arises in my head, “What if?”
I think almost everyone has those “What if?” moments. They don’t always wait until later in life. Most come out of feelings of remorse, regret, sadness or some other glum feeling that causes us to wonder why we made the choice we did and what would have happened differently, perhaps more positively, if we had made another choice.
A friend, a fellow traveler on this particular spiritual path, once said, “There are no wrong choices – only ones that make Life easier or harder. We learn from them all.” She’s right. I think of what she said often as I look back and contemplate the choices I did make.
Having read One by Richard Bach, my mind tends to wonder about the possible alternative realities that may exist from the choices I didn’t pick. Could that be possible? After all, here I am wondering “what if” and trying to imagine the outcome from that other choice. My mind has always gone to those kind of strange places in my quest to understand my existence here.
From a spiritual perspective, I’ve often wondered about my purpose and existence here. If we truly are sparks of the Creator-of-All-that-Is, trying to learn about Him/Her/Itself, then having the free will to make those choices is mandatory. Without it, this whole sojourn in this reality would have no point. It truly is all about making choices.
Almost every minute of every day of our lives here, we are faced with making a choice in some way, shape, or form. From whether to get up in the morning, whether to eat, going to school or work, what route to take to our destinations, to whether to get married, have children, stay married, etc., etc., there are so many choices each day. Any one of them can bring joy or sadness, can keep us on track or radically change our lives for the better or worse and each of us has the power in our proverbial hands at all times. Wow! Who knew we were that powerful?
And yet, we are so very human. Our emotions, as much as our intellect, play an important part in the decisions we make. Fear, in all its many forms, is the biggest enemy to the choices we make. It causes us to limit ourselves and even make choices that cause our lives to be harder instead of easier. These, however, are still choices, and, if we allow ourselves to see it, we still learn from them.
That’s the thing about this life. Choices are necessary to create experiences and we learn, and hopefully grow, from those experiences. We can learn a lot from reading books and magazines, watching videos, TV, and movies, but a hands-on situation teaches us more in the long run. When we are an active part of a circumstance, we learn much more from it and it stays ingrained in our memories. For example, you can read and watch videos on how to change a car tire. You might even think you can do it easily. It’s not until you actually have to change a tire – out in public, on the street or highway – that you actually realize what it’s like and how easy or hard it is.
Choices. They say that hindsight is 20/20, but is it really? If you believe that there were certain things you came here to do, learn, and resolve, then who’s to say you should have made choices any different than the ones you did? I think looking back at the choices I made and what the result were, I can often see why things had to happen the way they did. I may not have learned what I did and, therefore, I would be a different person than I am now. I’m not talking about whether I would be richer or poorer, more famous or unknown. I’m talking about my personality. Would I look at the world and the people in it the same way? Would I have the same amount of compassion and understanding for myself and others? Hey. Would I have lived to be 70?
I’ll never know the answers to those questions and maybe I don’t need to know. Knowing that each experience I’ve lived through has taught me something should be enough. The rest is speculation and the stuff of good fantasy and science fiction novels and movies. Will I continue to look back and wonder? Oh, probably, because that’s who I am, but I am so very grateful for the reality of all that I have lived through and learned from the choices I did make.
Choices are our super-power. We make them every day. Just remember, there is no wrong choice. So, don’t second-guess yourself. Go with what “feels” right in the moment. Later, no matter how it all turned out, look back and ask yourself, “What did I learn from that?” “What was it trying to teach me?” Those are the truly important questions, not “What if?” The answers can be enlightening and filled with growth and wisdom.