Tuesday, May 09, 2006

echoes

I was wondering this morning, on my drive to the beach, what might my life have looked like if I had made different choices at various points. Might we have parallel lives running alongside ours, lives that could have been, maybe even should have been had we made different choices? I wonder what my parallel self might look like. Do you ever wonder where you might live now had you chose differently then? If you’re female, what might your life be if you hadn’t said yes, or if you had? Each choice, laid out before us every day that we crawl out of bed in the morning, can lead one direction or another. Even the choice not to get out of bed could have a profound impact on our destination. I wondered this as I drove along the water with the sun rising over a skyline that only six years ago I would never have recognized. Now it’s home. What might my life have looked like if I had said no to this church and yes to another? I think that the choices are like echoes throughout eternity. When I was a kid, wandering through the Adirondack woods of upstate New York, I used to love to listen to my voice echoing off the walls of a canyon, early in the morning. Just a short but shrill “Hey” would generate waves of response that would travel out and back. The sound would burst forth, eventually travel back to the source, somewhat fainter and even sometimes harder to identify as my own voice, but always loyal to its source. Like my echoes, I can trace my path here, or anywhere for that matter, to certain moments in time where a decision burst forth and a direction was set. So I wonder, what if I had made other choices? What if I had stopped along the way to chat with this person or that who had been placed in front of me? What if I had been ten minutes sooner or later to a certain appointment? What if I hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask my wife to marry me? What if I had chosen one college over another? What if we hadn’t chosen to get our kids to a doctor when we did? Is there an echo of my other “so called” life wandering beside my existing one? I imagine that when I die, I’ll get a private showing of the world premiere of my life. Will it include alternate endings? Is there something huge that I’ve missed? I’m of the conviction that God knows all things and He’s been to the end already. I like to think that I live my life guided by His spirit. But I don’t think that it is dictated by His spirit. I have made choices at times based on a feeling in my gut and in my spirit that it was the right or wrong thing to do. What about those others that I ignored? The truth is, I cannot imagine living anywhere but here, with anyone but my family, doing anything but what I’m doing. My conclusion this morning is that I cannot dwell on the what if. I need to rejoice in the what is. That doesn’t prevent me from chasing echoes.