Do you ever find yourself wondering how things would have turned out if you’d done things differently at some specific point in the past?

What if I studied this instead of that?

What if I’d lived there instead of here?

What if … what if … what if …?

Today I was squished in a car with a few of my colleagues, en route back from a meeting.  In the course of conversation one of us said that he loathed Margaret Thatcher, but he had her to thank for making him into the person he is.  In other words, in reaction to her leadership of Britain, he found his own political backbone, and ultimately all that came from that shaped the man he is today.  We mused over what kind of man he might have been, should she never had come to power in 1979 and he had never found himself with a political axe to grind during his teens and early twenties.

And I guess that’s true of us all.  Which road did we choose?  What if we’d gone the other way?  What if that hadn’t happened when it did – or never happened at all? 

What experiences were defining for me?  Some of them I’ve covered in the “As best as I remember it” section of my blog (still a work in progress, so it’s not all there yet). 

  • I became a Christian in my teens
  • I moved around a lot as a child, which affected my confidence and my character (not all for bad!)
  • I dropped out of university (failure is always a good definer!)
  • I studied art as an adult
  • I studied community education as an older adult (only a bit older)
  • I had some longish periods of ill health
  • I got married to a wonderful person
  • I became a mum

And of course they are only the ones that come of the top of my head now, there will be many more defining moments.  But if any one of those hadn’t happened, what would have changed?  I am imagining a kind of parallel universe, where I didn’t drop out of uni aged 17.  As a result I never returned to my home town, I never met the man I married, didn’t eventually become a mum.  Never studied art, had an entirely different kind of working life.  I wonder what would have happened instead?  It’s not a very pleasant train of thought.  I’m so thankful for the life I have.  The only thing I would change is that the day would be 26 hours long so I could sleep for 2 hours more each night. 

But then there’s the whole idea of predestination (which I don’t know much about to be fair).  Is this the only life that God ever had planned for me?  Because I know that some of the things that happened were as a result of really bad choices I made, or just the result of the world being a messed up place.

It’s making my brain ache to think about it all too much. 

Note to self: avoid hard thinking in the future

What were your defining moments?  Which road might you have gone down?  How do you feel about the road you’re now on?  Personally, I love my road because it’s the only one I know, and the alternatives aren’t that attractive.  The future has possibilities too, which this same road has led me to.