I’ve been struggling with this web site trying to make my posts show up the way I want them to. Thank goodness they have a feature of saving past revisions so that when I lose a post I can go back and get it. That was one of the first things I learned how to do because I overwrote an entire blog post early on. I saw something on Facebook the other day like, Do You Want To Save the Changes? My first thought was of this struggle. Then I got to thinking of it sort of like The Path Not Taken by Robert Frost.
In the poem Frost talks about the idea that he might be able to come back and explore the path he didn’t take, then acknowledges it most likely wouldn’t happen. In science fiction the idea of going back and changing something would lead to a whole different world. Anyone who’s seen Back To The Future knows the theme. There are a couple of decisions I made early on that I wish I knew what would have happened if I’d simply been more patient. I can’t project very far down that speculative road but I have memories of making those choices and of the branch that was the consequence of each of them. As we live in a linear 4th dimension and it is a one way street, we live on auto-save and no back-ups so we can’t even see the nexus points. We only think we know what some of them were.
One is when I was 18 my dad, who worked for the Associated Press in DC, got me a summer job working as a runner in the Capitol. Before faxes, computers, and cell phones young people were used to run pieces of paper and cups of coffee to those who worked in the building or between office buildings. The job didn’t start for several weeks after school let out and I wanted to start making money right away so I went off and took a job in a store as a clerk. Dad gave my job to my sister, who wasn’t so impatient and to this day it is one of her favorite memories.
I don’t begrudge her, I look back at myself, as most people must, with frustration at my impulsiveness and impatience. The reason that job was so good for me was that even in high school I was very politically active. One other reasons for my regret is that I let my father down. He had been excited that I’d be working there and it disappointed him that I wouldn’t wait. I can’t recall much about the decision making process, I just remember the results. It turned out to not be a very good summer for me. I learned that retail clerking wasn’t a very rewarding or well paid job. So I think of that summer with disappointment with myself. I wonder if I had taken that Capitol job if I would have made a different decision and gone to law school as I had thought I might. Like I said I can’t see around the bend right there in that path.
The other decision that was so seminal was a request a 17 year young man made of me. He wanted to go to this Quaker gathering of gay and lesbian Friends that was happening in DC in Feb. I didn’t know about it but, with some hesitation agreed to take him. It changed everything for me. If I had let my fear of being seen there keep me from going literally everything in my life today would be different. That simple yes, was all it took.
As a direct result of that decision I made friends and connection to the gay community and to the wider Quaker world that were and are the most profound of my life.
Yea, I’d like to un-save some changes. But I like where I am today and to change anything, including having more love in my life early on, would leave me somewhere else. I wonder how many people are as satisfied with their lives as I am mine.