The "do over". Have you ever contemplated what might have happened "IF" you had made a different choice, gone in another direction, could do something now, with all the experience you have accumulated?
This is a good, fictional premise used best in "It's A Wonderful Life". George wished he hadn't been born and in the movie, no one stepped up to do the good deeds George would have done, if he had been born. I have always wondered why everyone in Baileyville went bad without George? He wasn't the sunniest of personalities and just sort of blundered along, and I don't think Mary was all that happy with her choice of husband. As depressed as he was all the time.
The "wish I had done this" theme is good for daydreams. I'm not so sure what it would be like if it really happened. One small change and the rest of "everything" changes? So if I had, as an example, paid more attention in school, would I have gotten a good job? I like to imagine I would have.
The things I would change? I would have dated more. I always said no when anyone asked. I was afraid (and my dad was a drunk with a gun) and so I thought I was protecting the boys from an early death. I wish I had read my books, done my homework and actually learned something in school. I learned quite a bit (by accident), but I never really tried very hard. The odd moments when I actually applied myself to the work, well, that was wonderful.
I would change the whole chunks of my life where I fell under the influence of depression. When depressed, I sleep, read and eat. I just try to get through a 24 hour period with the least amount of conscious thinking. It is of interest to me that I have never suffered from depression while employed. So I try to always have some sort of job.
If I had it to "do over" I would be braver, smile more, say hello to people first, dress better, always have a job, paint pictures (even very bad pictures), always have flowers in the house, have more children, learn to drive sooner, speak French, visit my friends more often (even though they live far away and it costs so much to travel).
And moving to Maine and owning McDonald's restaurants here was so WRONG. We should have stayed in the suburbs of Chicago and G should have worked for the corporation until he retired. That move was the biggest, single, mistake of our lives. Yes, we NOW love it here, but the struggle and the toll it has taken on each of us, together and separately, has not been worth it. Being here, has nearly destroyed G, sent me into very long periods of depression, separated us from lifelong friends (who won't come to Maine) and family (who won't come, either) and has seriously limited G's ability to find good work.
If I was to have a "do over", I would want it for September, 1991. G and I would go to Hawaii on the company's dime and NOT go to Boston, not sell our house, not buy two crappy restaurants. I would choose the art department of the magazine where I worked. I would choose the life I wanted, not the pipe dream G wanted, until he had it, and HATED it for every moment of the next ten years. Perhaps, he is hating it all even now, 17 years later. Hard to say as he rarely talks anymore.
In September of 1991 we were happy. In November of 1991 we were deeply depressed. And here we are in November of 2008. Is this all there is? Send in the clowns. Please.
This is such a sad post, following your "good things" post. Regret haunts us, if we let it. I think we all fall into it from time to time. I know I do. But so useless to dwell on what might have been. I am sorry you are feeling this way. I hope the good things that are happening in your life will win out over sad, regretful feelings.
I'm sorry, Joanne. It's interesting that as we look back at our lives we recognize that there are certain clear lines that we draw (or are drawn) and after that things are different. Your post reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, "I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference."
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