Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if a certain thing never happened or you had never met a certain person or if you were somewhere else at a specific time? I think this is natural right? To wonder about how things could have been different. But, for some of us we get lost meandering down the path of wonder. We ruminate. We mull the past over, let it tumble round and round in our minds. Follow the spiral infinitely inward.
Admittedly in my class this week I had my kids take a trip down that rabbit hole; for their quickwrite they had to complete this sentence, “If ___________ had never happened, I wouldn’t be the person I am today” and then explain why that experience was so pivotal to who they are as a person. There is some value, I think, in reflecting on these monumental moments in our lives. It may lead to rumination which is problematic but it may also lead to gratitude or a better understanding of one’s own strength to persevere.
My favorite author, Jeanette Winterson, has some great quotes on this idea of wondering, following thoughts inward:
“I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.”
The thing about indulging in this wondering is that the outcome is unpredictable, sometimes it leads us nowhere but back to the beginning. Forcing us to accept that there are just some questions that are unanswerable. But even still there is something to be gained from that knowledge; peace comes from accepting what we can’t know. Easier said than done, right? That’s why this is my second favorite quote:
“I have a theory that every time you make an important choice, the part of you left behind continues the other life you could have had.”
I believe I’ve quoted this before but I just love this idea, that even though I can never know what could have been, there might be some other me out there living that alternate life. Experience not limited by the finite. Because every choice leads to possibility. Every encounter, every moment, every person, every everything is important. We are changed in each moment. Who I am now is not who I will be when I finish writing this blog. That, knowing that, holds so much power. It makes indulging in the wonder that much more alluring. And so, I’m going to indulge.
I wonder who I would be if I were born into a different family
I wonder who I would be if I had never gone to that party
I wonder who I would be if I had never trusted the wrong people
I wonder who I would be if I had never gotten married
I wonder who I would be if I had never made friends with certain people in my hometown
I wonder who I would be if I never changed majors
I wonder who I would be if I hadn’t had teachers and professors who helped me find my voice
I wonder who I would be if I had sought help sooner
I wonder who I would be without my diagnoses
I wonder who I would be if I never met the woman who introduced me to art
I wonder who I would be if I had just been allowed to be myself
I wonder who I would be if I had been allowed to feel my feelings without being chastised
I could follow that spiral down and down and down. I can imagine all the lives my alternate selves are living. It’s intriguing. But, I think I’m actually pretty okay with who I’ve become. My patchwork heart is a thing of ragged beauty because despite all the hurt, all the people who tried to break me, I still love. My heart still beats a rhythmic ballad for the others, for those who handled my heart gently, who stitched it together with moments of love and kindness and empowerment.