March 13, 2009

Do The Right Thing

Most of us grow up in environments in which we are told to do the right thing. It is something that I remember hearing quite frequently. It stood alongside all sorts of phrases such as "you can't screw an old head on young shoulders" and "leave the table."

If you ask my middle sister she'll tell you that I spent more dinners in my room than I did with the family. That is not how I remember it, but little sisters love to try and stick it to their older siblings.

Anyway the beauty of being an adult is that you find out that life can be very complicated and that doing the right thing is not always readily apparent. Sure, there are plenty of situations in which you can argue that there are only two choices, right and wrong. But the reality is that much of your everyday life falls into categories in which doing the right thing is better classified as taking an educated guess.

I suppose that I should mention that the genesis of this post stems from a conversation I had with a friend who is in the early stages of getting divorced. We have spent a lot of time talking about how it all happened. Went through the whole falling in love "I can't spend enough time with you" to I don't love you anymore "what was I thinking" bits.

Midway through he looked at me and asked me what I thought about all of it. He wanted to know if I had seen any signs that he was doing the wrong thing. I told him that I hadn't seen anything that made me wonder about her. However I refrained from telling him that the boys and I agree that after they got married she changed. No point in adding that.

Anyway as we went back and forth about it all I told him that I don't advise beating yourself up over the past.  It is really easy to look back and see the mistakes we made and hard to look forward and anticipate all of those that we will make.

When I look at my own life I see lots of crossroads and I'll readily admit that I am not always good about taking my own advice. I won't say that I cringe over all of my decisions, but there are a few that I really wonder about. Every now and then I ask myself what would have happened if I had taken that other turn. What if I had refused to do XYZ or had decided to move out of state.

Would my life be different? Yes, it certainly would be. But would it be better? Well that is a much harder answer to give.

And now that I find myself looking at another big birthday I do wonder about some things. I do ask myself if I should make some big moves now to shake things up a bit. I believe in second chances. I believe that it is never really too late to start over.

I believe those things because I have to. I can't accept a life that doesn't offer that. When I look at what is happening in the world and the impact of the economy on my life I wonder if now isn't the perfect time to take a leap into the great unknown. It is really hard to say what will happen. One decision has so much influence on so many other things.

But it could make life so much better. It could be the difference between being satisfied and fulfilled or just kind of getting through the day. Or maybe not.

The point is that it is not all that clear cut. But whatever happens I'll try hard to do the right thing.

1 comment:

V-Grrrl said...

I can imagine a different life had I made taken the other paths that presented themselves, but would it be a better life? Like you, I'm not sure. The way things unfold in reality often doesn't match what the imagination has been seeded with. The truth is WE NEVER KNOW and can exercise seemingly good judgment and be blindsided. Better to accept that every step we take is risky, that nothing can guarantee us the result we're hoping for.