Saturday, March 8, 2014

What if?

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've made some ridiculous choices in my life that I lived to regret.
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 .

After College
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?


DJan said...

Yes, I often think of "what if" these days, as I find the choices I've made shaped my life in a certain way. I also play "if only" which is nowhere near as much fun. :-)

Lise said...

Glenda, this post is an attention getter and forced me to think, whether I liked it or not. I have spent my entire life asking myself "what if" and still do. In fact, I am in the midst of looking at some things because of that what it. At the same time, I am where I am today because of asking myself what if. So it's both a blessing and a curse to ask myself the question. This I know for sure--though I do ask myself what if, I have zero regrets. I'm living my Log Cabin Life because I asked myself what if. I'm taking a writing class because I asked myself what if. I'm looking into going back to work because I ask myself what if.

Great post, thank you!

Staci Bell said...

Great post Glenda and I love the photo of you and Barry :) I used to ask "what if" and have tried to not ask myself that question these days. I suppose it has to do with my age and the fact that I can't change those answers now. I, for one, am happy you made the choice with Barry. I know how much you loved and still love him. That choice would have also not brought you here and here is where you have changed the lives of so many:)

I do see the prompt in this and as usual, even before class starts, I have a great prompt! Love this post my friend!

Anonymous said...

I often ask myself what if I hadn't said yes to Bill's marriage proposal? Who would have taken care of him after his stroke? How long would he have lived? Thanks, Glenda, for possibly giving me an idea for a blog post.

Glenda Beall said...

Hi Readers, I am happy you responded to my post on What If?
We are the choices we make, and this questions those choices.
Djan, Lise and Abbie, you seem to have made good choices in your lives, and Lise, you are still considering choices ahead. Staci, I love that you see a prompt in this and perhaps you will have something for our class at Tri-county next week. We still have room for a few more students and hope they will contact Lisa and sign up on Monday, the deadline.