“I coulda bin a contenda…”
S L I D I N G D O O R S
Do you ever look back at your life and see missed moments that, had you responded differently, could have profoundly changed the course of your life?
“Reality is a sliding door.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you have a hidden talent or gift that could have been fostered, making you very successful/happy, had you pursued it? Is there still time for it?
Terry, from On the Waterfront – “I coulda had class, I coulda bin a contenda, I coulda bin somebody…”
The character, George Bailey, from “It’s a wonderful life,” gives up his dream of world travel, big cities and the easy success that his friends are cashing in on. He doesn’t give it up so happily but when faced with major life altering decisions he chooses to live according to his gnawing moral code. He can’t let those who are near and dear to him down. He puts his heart’s desires on hold to serve others and ends up, “the richest man in town.”
CLARENCE – Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.
I personally believe that, “all things work to the good…” I don’t choose to live my life with a bunch of regrets but I do like to take the time, occasionally, to reflect on lessons that I may need to learn. I understand that we make choices, both consciously and sub-consciously based on an old script that we’re born into. We’re nothing if not complex.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Plato
Have you ever had that recurring dream, the one when you forget that there’s going to be a test in school and you haven’t studied, maybe you haven’t even attended class? (Some version of that…) It’s an anxiety dream. Have you ever thought about what it’s hidden meaning is? I have, because I used to have it frequently. My interpretation may be a little ‘out there’ for some people but, what if this short mortal life was a test, of sorts, and that dream is an alarm going off, alerting us to things we should be doing? WAKE UP AND PAY ATTENTION! I sometimes ask myself, Am I failing the test? Am I living up to my potential or am I just sleep walking through life?
“This is not my beautiful life!” – Talking Heads
Lots of things to ponder or not…. 🙂
Sometimes I’m disappointed when I’m needing the approval of my peers — the ‘tribe’ so to speak — because I didn’t take a conventional route — but then I remind myself that I’ve always preferred operating from the periphery. That’s when I realize that only I am responsible for where I am today. I made these choices. I just have to remind myself to be cool with that. It’s so hard to deprogram myself from all the surrounding notions about where one should be at a particular point in their lives. These are all human-made constructions, which reminds me that I can “construct” my own model and perhaps be a part of a new influence. That’s all it takes. I don’t have to be stuck on some common idea — these things aren’t static. Sorry Grippy — again you’ve inspired me to think about things! I totally don’t mind if you just skim over all this — hahaha!
Hey, don’t apologize. I love your comment and I agree completely. There’s so much noise coming from the outside, lots of shoulds on where we should be and what we should be doing, and there’s always some sort of external measuring stick that we’re tempted to use for comparison purposes. It’s a bunch of hooey. We just need to quiet ourselves and march to the beat of our own little drum, whatever that beat may be.
I have no regrets, per se, but I do sometimes wonder what my life would have been if I had made different choices. Then I remind myself, there is no perfect job, companion, situation, etc. because we carry all our life’s baggage with us and use it to reference the world with. The baggage we carry probably makes more of a difference in our lives than just about anything.
I’m with you, Sandee. We can construct our own model and make our own rules, we just have to remind ourselves from time to time.
Deeply profound comment,
Thanks, friend xoxox
I’m with Sword-chinned, thank you for requiring some thought from me this morning. I have had that dream MANY times, didn’t buy the books, didn’t go to class, etc. I think the wonderful thing about aging is you are more conscious of your decisions. I don’t live with regrets, what is the point? But I do look at my decisions, good and bad, and redirect my sails if needed.
Great post G!
Great comment, Mags. I look at people choosing to have babies, get married (ahem..) move their families, end relationships, take new jobs, etc. and though we put thought into these decisions, we usually jump in on a wing and a prayer and hope it all turns out okay because our intentions are good. Some people put more thought into what they’re going to order for dessert than they do some of these other life choices. (Okay so I’m talking about me.) But seriously… I just think that we should be more aware of the course our life is taking, do a little inventory now and then, redirect the sails, as you said, create a mission statement, etc. At the end of the day, these choices, for good or bad might end up defining us. It’s worth a look, right?
Your comments are always thoughtful and appreciated. xoxo
Our guy had a good night, huh? 🙂
I was so happy last night! I had been dreading it and when James Carville says it was Mitt’s night, you know it was a big win for our team!
It was glorious. 😀
I love the way my life turned out. I don’t think I would’ve wanted it any other way. And I don’t think it could’ve gone any other way. I’d like to think that whatever path I took, the big things wouldn’t have changed. Maybe they would’ve but I you just can’t know, can ya? Maybe I’m just one of the lucky ones. I’m sure tons of people are like, “What have I done with my life?” “How can I change this?” But for right now, I’m pretty haps!
You are one of the luckiest ones. Aww… that makes me happy that you feel that way. No mom could ask for more for her children. 🙂
Believe me, there are plenty of people that are 25 years old and shaking their heads, like, “This is not my beautiful life!” haha!
Hahh yeahh I’m one of the lucky ones. Undeserving, but lucky nonetheless… 😀 (Ps. glad to see you are really making use of the smiley faces!)
“Wake up and pay attention.” That’s some pretty excellent advice.
Thanks! Life is short, so yeah, it seems like pretty worthwhile advice.
I coulda been so many things….but after some terrible turns in life, some of us have bounced back and achieved a few things…the attachment was published in the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper with a circulation of 300,000. The essay explains itself. And if you have 4 and a half minutes, watch our video: Youtube Moon Dancer One Band’s Story. Similar feelings. Allan Wilson
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2012 14:45:16 +0000 To: email@example.com
Hi Allan. I loved your youtube video. It was beautiful. I’m actually a mental health therapist and so the words at the end were very moving and meaningful to me. I’m impressed with your significant talent and your desire to help others who have been emotionally wounded. I’ve found that those life experiences often have the effect of creating beautiful souls, compassionate, sensitive people who are a blessing to be around.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I hear you.
Great post, I enjoyed every word, and I too believe that we need to pay attention so as not to miss a moment. Thanks and have a great day.
Thanks, Tina. I’m glad you enjoyed it and feel the same way I do. It’s, at the very least, worth contemplating. 🙂
I am so glad you used the word potential there at the end. I think that’s the biggest thing, people don’t work themselves to find the potential they have. Nothing is sadder than wasted potential. I think I’m at the age when I’m starting to see it more from old friends. A kid I knew was brilliant in high school. Okay, maybe not brilliant but memorizing the first 500 digits of Pi in order is impressive. He was a math wiz. I went 6 years without seeing him. He’s put on 80 pounds and spends every night smoking pot. Worst of all, he’s not happy with the life he has.
I find it better to never tell people how to live their lives. Instead I try to lead by an example so hopefully my own successes can help someone else see they too can achieve something wonderful.
Awww… Timisgoo. This was a really great comment. It’s true that life is more about the journey, the happiness and feeling of satisfaction along the way than it is about earning big bucks, fame, approval from others, etc. I bet that kid is pretty miserable and yet he’s sitting on a gift that he doesn’t tap into. It just goes to show you that even with raw talent, if you don’t have your head screwed on straight or if you have low self esteem, the talent is for naught. Wasted potential is tragic.
I think leading by example is the best way to help someone. It’s their journey and it’s gotta click for them – I would never want to be responsible for someone else’s choices.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment 😉
Have I made some wrong moves on the highway of life? Absolutely. I used to kick myself but no more. I am moral, caring and eager to keep learning as as long as they stay intact, life is good. I have to only live up to my expectations. No one elses.. this is a great “thinker” post!!
Great comment, Lynne. I think it’s a given we’re gonna make bad choices, but do we let those choices define us and keep us down or take us far away from who we really are? Some people do. They get lost and are never able to find their way back. I think that you’ve always managed to stay buoyant because you know who you are and there isn’t a life event or choice that’s gonna keep you down. You, my friend, are a strong spirit and a wise soul. xoxo
I actually read this post twice.. along with the comments. Life is full of woulda coulda shoulda I guess. Me? I need less self examination and more sleep walking (smile) “all things work to the good”– I like that Grippy and I like you. Your writing is always multilayerd and smart. Now I need some coffee to process everything I have read. Thanks Lady!
Yes, “All things work to the good…” what comfort that line brings! Some people, I think, get a free pass. They do all their hard work when they’re young and if they survive emotionally, their goodness intact, they’re done. 🙂
I think that applies to you. I feel my husband falls into that category, too. That means, like you said, less self examination and more sleep walking. That’s as it should be.
I love your comment almost as much as I love you, and that’s a whole lotta love.
Thanks for being my friend.
I have that anxiety dream quite often. And yet, I can’t think of anything I would really change. I mean, everything that’s happened to me up to this point has made me what I am and has put me where I am today, and I’m pretty happy with my lot in life, so I can’t say I have any true regrets.
Although actually, one of my biggest regrets–literally–is that I didn’t stuff my face during the cocktail hour at my wedding. Apparently the food was to die for, but I was too busy doing the guest greeting thing, and I didn’t get to eat. I still feel sad that I missed out on all that yummy food.
Haha! I have similar regrets about Lily’s wedding!! Everyone raved about the appetizers and I didn’t get any. I have some big regrets, I just don’t dwell on them. I try to understand why I made certain choices. At least if I understand what I was thinking and feeling at the time I can accept the path I took. In the end we end up with life lessons either way. That anxiety dream always makes me feel like I’m off course and supposed to be doing something more important.
You know what’s funny? When I started writing this post I was going to try and make it light and funny and I ended up with this heavy duty downer. LOL!
(it is heavy but not a downer…serious but in a good way)
Thanks Audra. I may have to do a second part and go in the direction that I originally envisioned. I always feel bad when I write something too heavy. I guess it all depends on how you interpret things and what mood you’re in.
Indeed. I am not one to think of what ifs – I am in fact almost unable to. One day last year though, I thought about how I wanted to be a writer when I was at school, and what a shame I was talked out of it, and what if…and the next thing you know I was studying media and communications, writing my own blog, and working as a research assistant. Sometimes, asking ‘what if’ can lead to some pretty good changes :). Thanks for another great post.
I’m glad you liked this post and saw it more in the way I intended it. I think some forms of therapy include asking people what they played as children or what they wanted to be when they “grew up.” I think there are clues in our childhoods that can lead us back to our adult happiness, just like you experienced. Looks like you found your way back to your intended path. I bet that feels good. 🙂
I read this when you first posted, and had to wait a bit to comment. Coulda, woulda, shoulda–what are my thoughts on these words.
Shoulda I stayed with NameRedacted? Powered through all that happened? As a couple, we were good parents, and, I wonder what pain I’d have shielded my two from suffering if I’d just said mistakes happen and ran the bitch over with my car instead of divorcing him. No, wait, that’s not a good decision either, is it?
Coulda I have been a rockin’ history teacher, as I wanted to be from the time I was small? I don’t know, I didn’t finish my degree (any of the ones I started–damn Math and PE requirements and fear) so, I’ll never know. Tim has trusted me with his script, and I find myself fact checking from memory and wonder how I could have put this to use in a career that would have been a hoot rather than working for The Man.
Woulda I have changed my outcome? I don’t think so. Each step made me who I am, and, I’m pretty good with that. Sure, I need to lose some weight, I need to open up more to people and not distrust everyone person I meet (while at the same time willing to help out complete strangers), I need to believe I’m lovable, I have to embrace I can’t go back and continue my forward journey–wrinkles, aching bones and all. So, no, I’d not change a thing–who knows if I’d like the person I’d have become.
I love your posts, Grippy. You keep them interesting, deep, relevant and you make us all think–psych help with no charge!!
Whoa!!! Good answer!! (I don’t think that applies here, I just wanted to say it.)
Forget the “shoulda.” I don’t know a single therapist that doesn’t say to her client, “Don’t should on yourself.” That’s a torturous road that leads nowhere.
Now “coulda” is a different story. That’s more of what I’m talking about. Yes, Miss Addie, I think you would have been an amazing History teacher. No wonder you’re such a smarty pants on Dribbling Pensioner’s blog! haha! It makes me sort of sad that you didn’t get to follow that interest. Your students would have been in love with history and probably in love with you. So the fear held you back – I think most of us can relate to that on some level. How many student’s lives would you have changed?
Woulda… I think the majority of us like who we are today and recognize that it was the collection of those earlier experiences that made us who we are. The good and the bad. Change one thing and maybe we wouldn’t have our kids or our health or something far worse. There’re an infinite number of doors we can walk through during our lives, timing is everything. I look at the accident in the middle of the intersection and think, wow, that could have been me if I had left my house a few minutes earlier but I chose to empty the dishwasher instead. It’s random. It hurts my brain to think about.
When I was MUCH younger and living in NYC, two Italian men approached me and asked me if I would be interested in modeling. Like any New Yorker worth their weight, I looked at them like they were crazy, lied to them to get from them, and walked away. A few weeks later I saw their picture in Vogue – they were designers on the level of Valentino or Versace. What if I had been polite and said sure, give me your card and we can meet for coffee. What if? That would have turned my world upside down. I wouldn’t have met my husband, had my kids, etc. My life would have been completely different. Now that’s a sliding door that I still think about. 😉
Miss Addie, I always look forward to your thoughtful and passionate responses. You’re one of the reasons I keep writing. 🙂
This is exactly what my novel is about, and opens pretty much just like this… Thank goodness I copyrighted it, or you’d swear I stole your blog! :-p
Well, that’s an incredible compliment because I think you’re a great writer. I’d love to read it when it becomes available, unless it already is? Do you have a title?
It’s a great topic, I’ll give you that.
I’m reading the editor’s feedback and putting final, final, final (she said over and over) copy together. I don’t like the title and am currently driving myself nuts trying to think of a new one. 😉 I’ll keep y’all posted. I really like this post, as it’s short; sharp; and thought provoking. Nice job!
btw: I too keep NOT getting word press posts that I subscribed to, or have them dropped (mentioned in your updates)… drives me nuts!
Yeah, what’s the point of signing up for somebody’s blog if you’re not going to be made aware of when they post? It’s so annoying.
This is very exciting, I’M EXCITED for you! The title is always tricky, and you’ll know when you hit on it, I’m sure. (I’m guessing! Haha!) I’m really looking forward to it.
I definitely think that our dreams are trying to tell us something. Wake up and pay attention is probably usually what they are trying to tell us. Only trouble is I usually have no idea what I”m supposed to be paying attention too! LOL!
Since I turned sixty, I’ve definitely made peace with the fact that this is it. It’s either now or never. I’ve got no more wiggle room to put things off. If I don’t do it now, I will never do it. My priorities have become crystal clear and I’m so thankful for that!
Every time I read your blog I always have lots to say about what you’ve just written. There’s some sort of magic ingredient in it that gets me thinking and caring about whatever subject your write about! You have such a gift, Lisa! 😀
Gee, Linda, that’s such a nice compliment –especially coming from someone I admire so much. Most of the time, I just let the many questions I have rolling around in my head, come out in a post. This one is no exception. In my mind it’s a little disjointed but in one of my reader’s eyes it’s multi-layered! haha! Hey, I’ll take all the compliments I can get at this point. LOL!
I think having priorities and making peace with where you are and what you’ve accomplished, sounds like a good place to be. Like you, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be paying attention to. It’s like God has to hit me over the head with a 2X4 in order for me to even get an inkling! haha!
Sometimes I think that I would love to rewind an event and get a do-over. But, since that isn’t realistic, I guess I try to learn from my mistakes and just try and make myself a better person. I am trying to live up to my potential (love that, by the way). Great post – it got me thinking! 🙂
I would love to push the re-wind button or have do-overs for lots of things. Wouldn’t that be great? But, you’re right, we ‘live and learn’ as the saying goes. It doesn’t stop me from wondering what my life would look like, had I made different choices or if it’s too late to implement some of those choices. I often feel like I’ve fallen way short of my potential. (This usually causes me to laugh nervously! haha!)
I’m glad you liked this post and it made you think.
Have a great day, Jean!
The comments are as fascinating as the post!
I have my own stack of things I…could have done differently.
But I’ve also ended up in a better position than I ever imagined.
In the end, I got the girl. Everything else is noise.
You betcha. I think finding the right partner to go through life with is the most important thing in the world. I love my husband but we’ve had some rough patches. I sometimes wonder if there is such thing as a soul mate. I wonder is there someone out there thinking the same thing as me, this very minute? The comments were definitely interesting. Lots of different takes on this topic. I like your comment. It feels right and good.