I wonder how many chances you get to change your life. Are there in a lifetime just a few golden moments when you stand at a crossroad and make a decision to go down one path or another? Or does every day hold a hundred chances to become someone else, a hundred stones in the road that might be diamonds, if we would just bend over and pick them up?
Nothing special happened today, except that these questions started pecking away at my complacency. It was a serene, productive day, the converse of yesterday's frantic circular race to stay even. This is the kind of day when I have the time and tranquility to ask myself where I am, and how I got here.
For the longest time, I wanted to move to a bigger place but didn't believe it was going to happen. I looked indifferently at the classified ads, but only when it occurred to me, and without much hope. People urged me to take a more active interest in the process, but as usual I let things happen to me. Then Mom read an ad, made a few calls, and stuck an elbow in my ribs. I looked at this place, met the owners, made (apparently) a good impression on them, and here I am. After so long in a place that was familiar if not exactly comfortable, I'm suddenly making a new life in a new home.
How many chances, in the twelve years I lived in the last place, did I have to get out? How many times did I miss those chances, by being oblivious, or too lazy, or too timid? Where else might I have ended up? How close did I come to not finding this place, and staying where I was?
When I left the shoe business in 1985, I was out of work and desperate. But I wasn't desperate enough, apparently, to overcome my natural reluctance to market myself or search for a perfect spot where my talents would flourish. Instead, I answered help wanted ads, but only those that asked for a written résumé, so that I could wait for responses instead of making the calls myself.
Imagine how many jobs there might have been at that time that could have used my abilities and given me wings. Instead, as usual, I interviewed for the first company that called, and when they offered me a job, I took it. And here I am today, still, so many years later, wondering if the next call might have been the one that made me a star, or whatever the geek equivalent is. An asteroid, maybe.
Those are the big things. Those are the obvious moments in a lifetime of moments, the times when I grabbed for the ring, whether it turned out to be gold or tin. Or sand. Or smoke.
But what about the rings I didn't see? What if I'd said just the right thing to just the right person, somewhere along the way, and been transformed into an alternate version of the person I became? How many universes have slipped through my fingers, because I wasn't ready to grasp them?
I guess I'm a person that things happen to. I don't seem to make things happen, and so I should count myself lucky to be where I am. I could just as easily be homeless and unemployed as I could be living in Monticello or Pickfair, and working as president of the WB network or archbishop of the New York diocese.
I am who I am equally because of the choices I've made, and the opportunities I've missed. I know about some of the golden moments, positive and negative. But what I don't know is how often these chances are there for the taking, and I just don't see them. I might have missed opening a door today, simply because I wasn't observant enough to see it. A hundred doors, maybe. Will I see one tomorrow?