I am by nature a decisive person. Being in the middle of a decision is very stressful for me. I even feel vicarious stress when people around me are indecisive. I would rather make a bad decision and change it later than sit in the purgatory between paths. Because of this it seems odd how I dwell on those paths not chosen. I spend many hours thinking of the lives that might have been. The turned down marriage proposals- what if they'd been taken? What of the careers I turned away from? What would that woman look like?
Though I think of those could-have-been lives, I don't have regrets, mostly because I chose. I actively stepped forward. I dream of those could-have-been lives only out of curiosity. The wife to the Italian, Catholic boy- what does she do everyday? The peace worker at the United Nations, where does she find love? The wildlife vet -does she sleep content? Questions to ponder nothing more, no regrets.
I just finished On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and if there is book I wish my children to read above all others it may well be this one. I can't bear the sadness of a life of omission, a passively led life. There is where you will find unbearable regrets. The waste and inefficiency of allowing a passive life, tossed by the whims of fate and happenstance seems the largest crime a person can commit. That life is one of unfathomable depths of sadness where those other lives mercilessly taunt you.
The saddest line in the book for me is: "This is how the entire course of a life can be changed - by doing nothing."
We must act. Is there a decision you struggle with? Is there something you need to say but hesitate? Is there a wish in your heart? Why wait? Doing nothing may cause more harm.