I thought I'd start a new discussion that somewhat resembled the last. I believe in God, but I also believe in fate and our ability to change circumstances via free will. That was the point of my last major post. I truly believe every major decision in my life has totally affected how I am now -- and I am happy now. Of course I might have been happy had other decisions been taken, but I obviously weighed the pros and cons, whether it be jobs or personal things. Honestly, the three things that mean most to me these days in order are 1) my cat; 2) foreign travel; and 3) teaching, writing and research.
But when I think of how if I had made any other decision in 1994 than to take this job rather than the other one, or before that to get divorced, or before that to actually marry the alcoholic Frenchman, I am compelled to think how my whole life would be different.
If I had chosen the job in Saint Louis, I probably would have been more social, though not much. But it's a city, unlike where I am in Maine. That has had good and bad effects on me. As an only child with nothing but unpleasant experiences with other children, I was always introverted (now always excepted when abroad), but have become more so in a small town. I love anonymity, which is why I loved Boston so much. I never lived in fear of seeing students or co-workers in the bookstore or grocery store (even though I am totally innocuous) as I have since 1994 when I moved to central Maine. I don't like small town life and never will. When I retire, probably ten years from now, I will either move to the coast (I adore the ocean) or to a city in New England. If I had stayed married to my first husband, I would have celebrated my 42nd wedding anniversary this month (I'm saying thank you, God, right now) and would never have gone to college at all, let alone grad school. If I had stayed married to my second husband (a fellow grad student, with the same advisor), I would have been celebrating (I use the term loosely) my 30th anniversary next August. Happily both are married again and from what I can tell, happy.
But I would not have been. And that's what I attribute to the Fates. We didn't have a whole lot of choices back then as women, so that's why I got married when told 'or forget it'. I had to ask permission of my first husband, even though he was unemployed throughout our marriage, to apply to colleges.
This is a long way of saying I would not be a Marriott Rewards Insider, former ambassador, Delta elite member, and (I think) somewhat interesting person, had not all the pieces and decisions fallen into place as they did. Right now I would be a really cranky 60-yr-old secretary supporting her family or living in Michigan or France with my second ex or so-called fiancee.
Instead, I love my life. I have my 'kids' though they graduate every four years but I still get very attached to many of them. I have a job I mostly love, and that gives me enormous benefits that allow me to experience the cultures of so many parts of the world. And get this -- my two surviving family members, a father and his sister, my aunt, now say they're proud of me. And so the Wheel of Fortune turns.
I always go back to Joseph Campbell, however cliché it may seem (my accents are working again!), and tell my students, follow your bliss. If your bliss is plumbing or construction, then do it -- like my bus driver sort of not really 3rd husband [we did not get married, it just lasted as long as my marriages] who loved meeting and talking with people. But I always tell my students to do what they love, because phases of job hirings in certain areas come and go, and if you ONLY go for security, you may never be happy.
Chrisf, my wistfulness was only due to Paris. I'm actually a pretty happy person. That's where the beginning of Mary Hopkin's song comes in -- I've got the life I chose....and I love that life. It has opened me up to people, cultures, and things I never could have imagined in a lower-middle class childhood.