Have you ever wondered how you ended up where you are right now? I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. I feel like I’ve been wandering around with no real direction, and those of you who know me well know that I have a hard time finishing things…. I’ll get bored with something and just drop it, turn my attention to something else.
I’ve been treating life like a smorgasbord, sampling a bit here and there of the possible lives, careers, and futures the world has to offer, but never really settling on anything. I’ve dabbled in real estate, theatre, computers, web design, advertising, teaching. After Shawn died I went back to school, in an impractical field with the stated goal of teaching college, but my ulterior motive was finding something to do that gave me health insurance and direction after his death.
Over the past couple years, while in Germany, the bottom has fallen out of academia. Schools are tightening their collective belts, cutting programs, hiring adjuncts instead of tenure-track professors. As I stand before the sheer cliff face of the dissertation, my only obstacle left on the way to the PhD, I wonder if there’s anything at the top worth climbing for. Is it even possible to find a job in this economic climate? Or should I do something else? Another trip back to the smorgasbord, to sample another possible future, as the lights dim in the diner and the waiters look anxious for me to get on with it. Will I ever be satisfied? Will I ever settle on anything? Or should I have done something differently long ago, chosen one path and stuck with it, so that at this point in my life I would have some security, stability….
If you could go back and change one thing in your life, choose a different path, what would it be? Which of the major turning points in my life would have led to that sense of stability and contentedness that I long for now? Not moving to Germany? Choosing an MFA program over a PhD and being done, teaching or working somewhere? Finding a “job” rather than returning to school after Shawn’s death?
Or earlier…. If I had made different choices in the nine years we were married, would it have led to a path in which Shawn lived? Is there an alternate universe somewhere in which Sheridan grew up with her mom and her dad, happy together? If I’d gone to ETSU and gotten an MBA or MAT and found work in Johnson City rather than trying to start my own business?
What if I had stayed in Kentucky to teach instead of moving to Virginia to be with Shawn in the first place?
Or stuck with my original Pre-Med major and gone on to be a doctor?
How far back do I have to go to find the path where I could have been satisfied with my life?