Do you know how hard this is to do? I think about this a lot, especially since I have 43 journals and notebooks and piles of papers with my thoughts on exactly that: fretting over past decisions.
Yes, yes, I know that I am who I am today because of the experiences I have had, the mistakes I have made, the relationships and friends that have shaped me. Still, I can’t help but wonder about some milestone memories and turning points in the past, and how a different “yes” or “no” in that moment would have affected my life today.
But then I think to how, on a very cold January morning two years ago, I was working as a dog walker. I was holding a bag of dog shit in my hand, worrying that my eyeballs were going to freeze in their sockets from the -2 degree high that day, and thinking that the one thing keeping me warm was that biodegradable plastic bag of steaming crap and that this was a poor way to use my journalism degree.
It is a moments like this, when you have been completely humbled and hurled to the bottom of life’s elevator shaft, that the worst thing you can do is waste time worrying about what might have been, the path you should have taken, the yes instead of no. You have to throw that bag of dog shit in the corner garbage can, bike home in the snow, wreck twice on patches of ice under the train tracks, peel off the clothes you bought at Goodwill that smell like a petting zoo, warm your feet by the blasting vent that also gives you high anxiety because the pilot light is more like a high powered blow torch instead of a tiny flicker and take control of your life by looking up jobs on Craig’s List.
When I get in the rut of worrying about how life might have been, I can laugh and think about the ride I have taken. And instead, worry about all the potential things that could happen in my future.