All or nothing

Categories: Buddhism, Family, Journal, Life
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Published on: February 3, 2007

The last few weeks have been hard. It’s hurt. A lot.

It’s one thing to think about the pain and transience of our lives when things are going well and another entirely when it sneaks up behind you, knocks you down and starts kicking you in the stomach. We grow up beliving that all options are open to us, all paths available. It’s hard when you realize that some ways are now closed and that there are things that we’ll never do or feel again. We can’t go back, we can only go forward.

Jyllian told me one time about how if you ever wanted to switch places with anyone, that to be perfectly honest, you had to take everything that they had. Leaving nothing out. At the same time you had to abandon everything of your own. Your experiences, your memories, the very essence of who your are. You can’t look at someones life from the outside, pick the good parts and splice them into your own life. It’s all or nothing.

I think the same thing goes when we look back at our lives and wish we’d taken a slightly different path. We’re the accumulation of our experiences and even a slight change would require an abandonment of everything we now have. I couldn’t have left Santa Barbara for San Francisco at any other time and still be sitting here in my office listening to my daughter thump around upstairs. I couldn’t have met and married my wife at any other time and had the marriage I cherish today. The forks in the road don’t ever converge again.

Looking at what I have now and the opportunities before me there is no way I would take that gamble that turning right instead of left would have produced a better outcome. It’s a bittersweet waste of time to even speculate on what might have been. There’s no way to know and no way to go back.

What I have is going to hurt for a while. Like an old football injury, there will be moments to come when an unexpected turn of thought will cause it to ache again for the rest of my life. But it’s all or nothing. What I have hurts but is wonderful as well.

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