When reflecting on where you are in life, it's possible you may look back on the events that transpired and think to yourself, "I wish I'd done that differently." I'm not talking about the ugliest person you dated, buying a lemon of a vehicle, or actually paying to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in the theatre. I'm talking about the huge life events. Something that inevitably changed the outcome of your life to date. I was recently reminded of my 'do over'. In the mid-90s I was in my mid-20s and had it pretty sweet. I had a nice apartment within walking distance of my two good jobs. I made decent money and drove a really cool Jeep. On the surface, it was truly ideal. But I was in my 20s and 'ideal' wasn't good enough. So when my culinary Yoda called me and wanted me to move 2,000-plus miles to become his sous chef in Oregon, my mind was made up before I hung up the phone. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't the most confident young man back then and didn't have the stones to move cross-country all by myself so I brought along my on again/off again girlfriend of the past eight years. After the first day on the road, I knew I had made a mistake, but I was a man true to my word so we got married and I put my best foot forward. Our lives quickly fell into a pattern. Our days off together were so routine that we didn't even have to discuss what we were going to do. I guess that did save time. She had got a husband, which is what she wanted. I got someone who willing to follow me anywhere and pay her half of our bills. I think we both secretly hoped for more, but it never came to the surface. On the professional front, my life was a whirlwind. New positions, new restaurants, new cities, new challenges came at me at blinding speed. Near the end of my time in Oregon, I crossed path with a woman who owned a vineyard in the Willamette Valley. The word around town was that she was contemplating opening a restaurant at her vineyard so I called to offer my services. We talked for a while and she explained that a full-blown restaurant was a few years off and right now the operation didn't require someone of my experience. We agreed to stay in touch, and that was that. I hadn't given that conversation another thought until a few days ago when I was reading an article about Pinot Noir in a trade magazine. The backdrop of the article was the bistro at the Ponzi Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. The lustrous photos of the dining room and surrounding Oregon countryside brought back feeling of regret and resentment. A longing to have done something differently plagued me for days.
When you're standing at the cross-roads and have to make those big decisions, all you have to base that decision on is the information and experiences you have before you. It's easy to beat yourself up over the 'should've, could've, would'ves' of your life when you can look back at them in the distance. And even when you look and those defining moments of better or worse, would you really change them? To change a moment in your past, you must also realize how everything in your life would be different now. The people you wouldn't have met, the experiences you would have missed, and places you may never have seen. This is why Hollywood can't do justice to a time travel movie, there are just too many variables. Are any of these variables worth giving up? Again it's easy to make the calls in retrospect. Even if you can choose the things you'd do and places you go, you'd still be cheating yourself out of the spontaneity of the experiences.
Before you go down that road of self-pity, thinking 'if only I'd done this...', look around you now. I'd be willing to bet that right here and right now isn't worth losing a single second of. Especially to another set of blind circumstances.