Past Lives and Future Consequences

Playing “From this Moment” by Shania Twain today, I was transported back (as I always am when I hear this song) to my sophomore year in college, when I danced to it with a very pretty girl named…well, you don’t really need to know that, do you?

Thinking of her, however, made me think about all the ways my life (up till now) could’ve been different, based on choices either I and/or other people made. The easiest one involves college. If I’d gone to a different college (I got into two), what would my life be like now? Or if I’d met different friends, or if some of the people I’d asked out had said “yes,” or if I hadn’t said “no” to others? What if I hadn’t gone to Japan, or stayed in Japan longer, or worked at different jobs that the ones I have? Would I have still ended up in Seattle? Would I have met the same people here?

It’s easy to look back and connect the threads from the past to the present, but life doesn’t present itself in a straight line. Because of the nature of the writing I do, I often find myself looking back. The trick is not to drown in those memories, or be sad that things didn’t turn out differently. The only life I’ve missed out on with my choices is a different life, not a better one.

Getting back to that dance, I officially asked her out the following week, but she was too busy with school and other activities. Plus, she wasn’t interested in me that way. Probably for the best, for in hindsight I can see that my love lay “not truly in my heart, but in my eyes,” to slightly paraphrase Shakespeare. That was the case until recently, and while the eyes must love what the heart sees, I tended to see mostly with my eyes in those days.

Still, I do wonder how she is doing, as well as other people from my past lives whose current lives I don’t cross that often anymore, if at all. Not everyone is on social media, after all, or on the same social media, and without an email or a physical address, my chances of running into them again are up to chance, just as the first encounter with them was.