It’s strange to reflect on the decisions we all make. It occurred to me this morning that, had things been different, I would likely be the part-owner of a house in Auckland and at very least an eight-year old. It also occurred to me that both of these things require significant investment, neither of which would have allowed me to be in the good space I am today.

It’s at times like these that I remember the sage words of a friend. I’d asked whether she had regrets about a former relationship, we were discussing sticking with old partners, and she replied, “Nah, if we’d stayed together we’d have a bunch of kids, and I’d be having a bunch of affairs.”

When I think back to reasons why I’ve left relationships myself this rings well true. When you’re in the midst of them they’re something to be cherished, but there’s definitely something to be said for 20-20 hindsight. 20-20 at the distance of maybe 10 years, that is. Anything closer and the perfect vision tends to turn to warts-and-all acknowledgement (or exaggeration) of your former beloved’s many wee foibles.

All the same, this gives one great cause for reflection on the paths we chose. And chose we do. From the time you’re strapping on the fledgling wings and heading out the door from mummy to the time you bolt yourself to another individual in (partial) perpetuity you will be making decisions with future pathways that cleave and shatter into more unknowns and what-ifs than the options on your satellite tv remote. And that’s a lot. But, if it’s any consolation, a lot of those options are bad.

I’ve always thought the trick was to know yourself enough to be assured the decisions about the paths you’re taking are the right ones. And tricky it is. Each of us can see the future horizon, though some of us chose to blur it with fun times and the short distances we can see down those alternate routes. There comes a time though when we all need to be able to see the options for what they are, choices that can only take us to whatever ultimate goal fate has in store for us.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not a fatalist. We do all have choices, but the way we make those choices really only serves to adjust the trajectory we all take towards the inevitable. Sometimes things are just written in the pages of history, indelibly, and we can only manoeuvre ourselves for the best view of our own lives unfolding. So, though we’re tied to a destiny, we always have some control over how we arrive at it.

Once upon a time this led me to thinking of life exisentially. If destiny is predetermined, then we can make our decisions on the cusp of the storm-front that carries us through life. We are rolling forward inexorably, so the most one can do is pluck as many daisies from fast-moving grasslands, to comfort us along the way.

I think age has mellowed that somewhat. A few years of quiet reflection on how my past-me has profoundly influenced the position of the current-me makes current-me feel reassured that future-me has been well-positioned. Yes, I am on a trajectory, but those fledgling wings have firmed up enough to see that I’m not a victim to vicissitudes and the fleeting moods of future-momentum.

All the same, those alternate futures, those wing-companions, do make me wonder. I see them sometimes there in the near-distance, a reminder of what may well have been, and I envy them the happiness that avatar-me may well hold. But not too much. All happiness is tainted with sorrow, without it, we would be much shallower beings.

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