The Butterfly Effect…

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?

2 thoughts on “The Butterfly Effect…

  1. Personally I say catch that damn butterfly and put it in a jar w/o any airholes. If it can’t flap its wings it can’t affect you. 🙂

    But I understand how you feel. Though, no matter the paths not taken in the past, I still know that the path I’m on right now will fork again and who knows. And those choices will be interesting to make.

    *hugs* Miss ya lots!

  2. I know exactly how you feel, as I sit in my windowless office waiting for some academic to show up late to their reservation just so they can complain that the lectern is on the wrong side of the stage, or that they don’t need any of this equipment that was reserved for them … this is not why I went to grad school. I could have been a very successful environmental scientist if I hadn’t turned to the dark side in undergrad.

    I think that way too much these days. I have to remember that my life had been rich with experiences, if not money, because of the paths I have chosen. I have met so many wonderful people and I am trying to make a career in a field which honestly does excite me. Besides if you and I had not both chosen the paths we did than we would have never met, and I for one would consider that a significant loss in my life.

    I miss you! Sorry that I haven’t come to visit. I can barely make it to see my own family. The economy is getting better. I am seeing more jobs open every month. You kick ass at what you do. You will make for an amazing teacher and practitioner.

    Love you lots!

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