Have you ever thought about how your life would have turned out if you had made a different choice? Do you carefully weigh your options before you take action? Do you jump right in without mulling over the outcome? Do you worry that you will make a wrong choice and have to live with the consequences forever?
I made a choice when I was 23 years old that changed my life. A total stranger called my house and asked me out on a date. A mutual friend had given him my number. He called simply because he was new in town and needed a date for a fourth of July party.
What if I had said no, I will not go out with you? What if I had never met Barry? Where would my decision have led me? But I made the decision to go out with a guy who didn't impress me much on the phone. I regretted saying yes as soon as I hung up. I was sure I was in for a boring date. He tried to impress me by telling me he drove a convertible. I also drove a convertible.
Although I was curious about him, I was sure he was an arrogant egotist, the kind of man I disliked and the kind of man who didn't like me. I climbed into his new car convinced I had made a mistake. But I turned out to be a terrible judge of character. A year later we were married.
|Glenda and Barry Beall|
I transferred from a wonderful girls’ school my junior year to go to the University of Georgia because I thought I’d have more fun there. My sister and I looked forward to going to the same school. She entered as a freshman. I hated everything about the huge campus, far larger than my former college. By transferring as a junior, I received no orientation, which might have helped me deal with all the new and complex issues I faced. I missed my friends at Georgia State College for Women, and never felt that I belonged .
I made the choice to return home to live after graduation. My younger sister headed for California after getting her degree. She went to work with Western airlines and traveled for a couple of years. She experienced life in a way I did not and at an age when I could have been testing my wings. I admired her courage and confidence, strengths I didn't have -- not then.
What if I had headed west, and traveled to all the places I’d always wanted to see? What if I had met someone out there and married him? What if I had been unhappy so far from my loved ones, but could not ever come back to Georgia to live?
I would not have been there to care for my mother when she became ill. Would she have had to go into a nursing home, and would she ever have gained the quality of life she enjoyed the last decade of her life without the constant care she received?
What if? I know people who say they never ask themselves that question. But as a writer, I find that is an important question. When writing fiction, what if is often the jumping off place for a story. “What if she meets a kind man or a man with a shady past? What if she lives in a small town instead of a city? What if her mother dies when she is a little girl? What if…
Choices. Life is filled with them.
Have you made any choices you regret? Have you played the what if? game with yourself?