What would the world be like if I never existed?
That was George Bailey’s Christmas gift from Frank Capra’s enduring classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”, a movie I traditionally watch every year during the holidays, and every year I bawl my eyes out when George is standing there in his living room at the end of the film surrounded by all the people in his life that he’s impacted and his brother Harry the War Hero strides in, lifts a glass, and toasts, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town.”
Okay, I’m better now. But I can’t begin to imagine a world in which I didn’t exist. Not because I think I’m so incomparably important, but because quite frankly, I’m not that imaginative. I mean who can really get their head around such a concept?
Sometimes I think the world is like a huge vat of Jello and we’re all just fruit floating around in it. A banana here, a strawberry there. If you pulled out a single piece of fruit from that vast pool, the rest of the goo would simply ooze in to fill the empty space with nary an air bubble as proof to the fancy fruit’s existence.
Now while some of us may be a bit fruit-y, I think our existence has a little more significance than an apple or a grape. And while I can’t really imagine the world without me here, I can begin to imagine what the world would be like if I had changed one major decision in my life.
For example, if I’d opted to go to University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on a soccer scholarship, I never would have ended up a Journalism major at Broward Community College (BCC) in Ft. Lauderdale. If I had never ended up at BCC and later the University of Florida, I might never have become a writer.
Moreover, I’d never have met Ron, a friend who first invited me to church and through which I became a Christian. If I hadn’t been in the church at the time, I never would have met my husband. If I hadn’t met and married my husband, I wouldn’t have my children, live where I live, work where I work, etc., etc. And I’d never have started this blog, so you wouldn’t even be reading this. (Think of the tragedy!)
All of this turned on a single decision of where I would go to college. The possibilities or lack thereof spider away from me like cracks in a broken glass.
Either way, I would probably have had a completely different life, possibly as Steven Spielberg’s personal assistant, an Olympic speed skating medalist, a hula-dance instructor, or a sky diver.
Not on your life.
Which brings me to today. While I don’t want to hesitant making decisions for fear of future repercussions, i.e., becoming frozen fruit in the blob, I think a thoughtful pause–with lots of advice from friends and family–is vital before making any important or weighty decisions. “A wise man seeks advice.”
Which job should I take? Should I move? Should I pursue a relationship with this person? Are they good for me? Of course, a helicopter could drop out of the sky on top of your house while you’re sitting at your desk pondering your plethora of choices, making any decision that you might have otherwise made null and void. But we won’t hold our breath on that.
Bottom line, whether we want to see it or not, our decisions have weight. The advantage to being single with your choice options is that most of the time, the only person immediately or markedly affected is you. If you’re married, you and your spouse feel the weight. If you have a brood, well then it affects the whole tribe. And there is NOTHING worse than your decisions making everyone in the family miserable (see Steve Martin’s Cheaper by the Dozen).
So what if I had gone to college in North Carolina? I’d be a Tarheel. Oh, the shame.
If I had married someone from North Carolina, it would be just my luck that he would play ice hockey, which would mean raising kids who wanted to play ice hockey, which would mean me standing in an ice cold rink hours a week–numb Florida hands and numb Florida feet–supporting my husband and/or kids like a good wife and mother should.