Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It Could Have Been Different

As one of the editors of IndieInk, I again agreed to participate in the weekly writing challenges. This week, my challenge was from my co-editor James Whitaker, who challenged me to take my pick from the following writing prompts: "unthinkable." "somewhere...out there." "it's never meant to last..." "tomorrow." "they'll never know..." "it could have been different."

The choice was easy for me.

You see, I have an unhealthy fascination with the movie Sliding Doors. Before I understood anything about Schrödinger's cat or parallel universes, I found myself completely fascinated by the concept that one little chance occurrence – whether the movie’s protagonist caught the elevator or the train, or had to wait for the next one – could totally change a life.

As a result, I find myself constantly thinking about how things could have been different. “If only I had caught the earlier train. . . ” “If only I hadn’t accepted the invitation . . .” ”If only I had not gotten in the car. . .” “If only I had made the call. . .” It’s an exhausting way to live, trying to figure out which decision was the one that derailed everything – or worse, trying to augur whether any decision you make is going to be the one that changes your life. And, ultimately, things that seem inconsequential have deeper import; things that seem important turn out to be meaningless in the end.

Case in point: New Year’s Eve. I had spent the entire day (and the day before) catching up with an old friend, which mostly involved drinking and talking, then drinking some more. In the wee morning hours, I found myself getting up off of the couch, taking out my contact lenses, and diving face first into bed. But something held me back, and, as a result, I made the decision to go back out to the living room to check on him.

My entire life changed as a result of that split second decision. And I am completely aware that it could have been different.

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