A choice that affects the course of your life need not be profound. That question whose answer will determine the ultimate course of your life might be quite unexpected. Like, you missed the bus – do you give up, go home and do the field trip next year instead or catch the train at your own expense to get there?
I got it wrong. I caught the train.
Or did I?
I mean, I know I caught the train, but was it really the wrong choice?
I guess I’d better back up a little and fill in some blanks. This is back when I was a healthy undergrad doing Geology. I missed the bus because I had misjudged my packing and had way too much stuff in enormous bags, but I was just in time if the bus had been where we were told it would be.
If I had gone looking for the bus, I might have found it, but instead I went to the department to ask and by the time I had done that it had gone. Not impressed! And that’s when I get asked possibly the most important question of my life. Upset, puffed out, hot and bothered, trying to make a good impression, not wanting to let my parents down.
The train didn’t even go until the next day, and I had given back the key to my room, so I had to sleep on a pile of old fur coats in a cupboard under the student union building! Three trains later I got there a day late, having missed the basic instructions, I did not do well. Also I sprained my ankle and got tennis elbow from carrying the heavy bags.
I also managed to scare off my friend by collecting scary skulls. I got a really cool ram with horns and a deer with antlers. The ram still had fur on. I think she was a bit freaked out.
I was in a group of 3. We had to measure rocks and make a geological map. My friend and I were not very good at it, but the other girl got the top mark of the whole group, so there was nothing wrong with our measurements, just our interpretation of them. We got the worst marks of the whole group 😦
My friend swapped to Archaeology at the end of that year.
That ankle never got better. Nor did the elbow really.
If I had not gone, I would have stayed friends with her and switched to Archaeology, which I would have been better at as it has less maths. I would not have wrecked two of my joints. Even had I not switched courses, it would not have been so bad going in my second year.
It is entirely possible I would not have got arthritis at all and my life would be totally different.
But would I be a runologist?
Would I have lived for half a year in Norway?
Would I now be stuck in a dead end job I hated?
I can’t know whether my life would have been better, worse or pretty similar.
Only God knows that.
Who would have thought such a decision would have the potential to alter my life so much? Not me for sure.
We give a lot of thought to the decisions we know will affect the course of our lives. Of course, if I had picked Archaeology in the first place, things would be different too. But how can we know when such a minor thing will be such a butterfly wing?
I don’t know how useful it is to ponder such things. I am not at all sure it is helpful at all. What do you think?