My life, winnowed down to this one existence, panics me some days. Of all the possibilities, life narrowed to this: Wife and mother living in a small rural town working as a freelance writer. Someone in some faraway place occasionally wonders what it must be like to live a romantic, adventurous life like this. She uses her imagination to place herself in my chair.
Meanwhile, across the sea from her, another person sneers at the unoriginal outcome of the choices I’ve made. She wonders why anyone would settle for the commonplace.
Different genes, different decisions and my life may have thundered along another track. As it is, whittled to this singular experience, I will never wear a high-powered business suit to a job in the New York City financial district. I’ll never join a circus and fly through the air with the greatest of ease. I’ll never herd sheep in Patagonia, sail around Cape Horn, deal in fine art, live on the edge of a desert, paint portraits of royalty, map uninhabitable jungles, or absorb myself completely in any reality other than the one in which I find myself.
What near misses have happened to deliver me to this chair in front of this keyboard with these birds singing in the background! One chance encounter could have altered the outcome. One snap judgment could have changed the course. One wrong turn could have dead-ended or branched or circled back.
I wonder if Geraldine and Tyler Latham of Guymon, Oklahoma ever think this way. They’ve been married 65 years. Born on the same day delivered by the same doctor in the same town, they have never not known each other. The place where they came into the world will likely be the place where they go out of the world.
Have they ever questioned what might have been had one or the other of them started on the dusty road leading west and got going with too much momentum to stop? What an indulgence to ponder such things!