Monday, 24 June 2013

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN - A REFLECTION...


The actual tenement building in which I once lived - on the first floor
to the right of the speed limit sign.  Where's the blue plaque?

Do you ever wonder in what ways your life might have been different if one aspect of your past hadn't happened as it did?  For example, if your family hadn't moved from one neighbourhood to another and you hadn't had to switch schools as a result? In what way would your existence have differed - the direction of your life been altered - as a consequence of your personal history not unfolding as it had?

Think of the friends you'd never have met, the things you'd never have done, the loves you'd never have known - all as a result of your parents deciding to move to one area instead of another (or not moving at all)  - or perhaps even emigrating to another country.  Favourite TV programmes and fondly-remembered comics and toys from your youth would be strangers to you, and a foreign cultural and social backcloth to your life could well have turned you into a completely different person to the one you are today.

I remember, about 14 years back, having a short-lived 'romantic' encounter with a young lady I'd been introduced to through friends, and enjoying some of the delights of the West End of Glasgow with her in all its golden, Autumnal glory.  Subsequently, when she returned to her own country, I fell into the habit of revisiting the area, and was surprised to eventually realise that it was the very neighbourhood in which I had once lived as a mere babe-in-arms back in the 1950s.

I had no memory of the place from that period, because we had flitted to a new town when I was not long out of nappies (diapers), but it caused me to wonder if my affinity with the locale was as a result of its association with the 'object of my affections', or a subconscious memory of being trundled about the streets in my pram or pushchair when I was a babby (love that word).

Sometimes, whilst partaking of a latte outside the OFFSHORE CAFE in Gibson Street (just around the corner and practically within sight of the very road in which I had once resided), I would ponder what it would be like if we'd never moved, and instead of having to catch a train back to my present house, I had merely to walk around that corner and enter the tenement building that had once been home to me, but of which I now had no conscious recollection.

My experiences, my memories, would all have been different - to such an extent that my life wouldn't be the life I'd known and which played such a part in influencing and shaping who I am today - it would be another life entirely.  Which is like saying it would be another's life entirely!  Because I wouldn't, in all likelihood, be the same person I am now.  Would I be better or worse though?  That's something else I sometimes ponder, but there's no way of knowing, I suppose.

Trouble is, it's incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to imagine a life different to the one I grew up living.  I guess it'd be the same for most people.  Doesn't stop me wondering though.

Now tell me - am I the only person who ever ponders perplexities like these, or is there anyone else out there who thinks along similar lines?  Maybe you'd like to add your thoughts, theories, observations and speculations on the matter, so feel entirely free to do so in the comments section.     

9 comments:

DeadSpiderEye said...

Indeed tis an interesting question Kid, that I think most of us ponder from time to time, usually when reflecting on a piece of bad fortune or the mistakes we might have made in the past. I do recall an incident when a colleague expressed such thoughts aloud shortly before he left. Something along the lines of the expectations he held when he started work, you know, "...I had such high hopes..." and because, in his earlier days DeadSpiderEye a congenial chap, not the bitter twisted nutcase who habitually refers to himself in the third person today, he gave me a bit of his life story. He'd been on Blue Peter or something similar, one of those kids singled out for edification by an institution at random, well not quite so random in his case, Carlos was West Indian so it was probably spawned by those touch feely sentiments and concern for inter-community relations. It was evident that the experience had left him certain expectations, expectations which real life hadn't delivered. I tried to say, life's a game, every defeat is a lesson you wouldn't learn if you only tasted victory but it sounded like platitudes.

On a lighter note there was desk girl called Karen, quite dumpy looking and spotty, I always made a point being nice to girls like that (they might have a good looking friend). Anyway she'd left for about a year and one day I spotted this super attractive young woman and I was thinking, -god I wish new her-. Thing was i did, it was Karen, she walked up to me and started chatting, I nearly passed out. I've got a feeling there's some kind of moral in those two stories but the insomnia is wearing off a bit so I can't quite figure it out at the mo. Anyway it'd be interesting to see what other thoughts this post generates.

Kid said...

Indeed it will, DSE. Let's hope they're as interesting and entertaining as your own.

Anonymous said...

I think most of us have thoughts like that, unless maybe you're James Franco or something. Boy, I know I sure have...whether it's about a career, a girl, a time or a place. I've heard it said you should never look back, but I'll be damned if I know how a person can always do that. Nobody I ever knew pulled that off.

Kid said...

Yeah, it's hard - not just looking back at what happened, but trying to imagine what MIGHT have.

Anonymous said...

They say that your whole life flashes before your eyes before you die! So what is the point of trying to relive the past or wonder what if, when that moment before you die is the time to reflect. Best to live your life right now. So start living today, now, after reading this message, not time travel. But, it is your life, what you have chosen, kid, so do whatever the heck you wanna do!

PhilSee said...

‘Life is in the timing’ is an expression I heard recently (a second cousin to ‘right place - right time’ I guess), and as I look back at the turning points in my life I’d have to agree. As a for instance; I was working at a design studio in the 80s, the other designer decided to move on, interviews conducted and staff member replaced. A year later that person decided to move on, for reasons I don’t recall now, but the point is their replacement had applied for the vacancy a year earlier and just missed out, getting the position this time. An office romance ensued between the young woman and myself and we have now been married 27 years! Had she joined the company a year earlier we would both have been in other relationships at that time - all in the timing. I also concur with Anonymous - you can’t change the past and who knows what the future holds so enjoy the moment I say. Interesting topic Kid!

Kid said...

You can't change the past, true, Phil - but I find it fascinating to consider possible alternatives and the way in which the present would've been affected as a result.

PhilSee said...

Don't get me wrong Kid, I also enjoy such speculation, which is why I liked the parallel universe storyline in the series Fringe, which presented examples of how the characters in each one had different lives based on choices they made at certain points. Life can be such a series of co-incidences and options that I don't know how people can believe in fate (or a 'higher power', but that's just me), when the paths your life takes result from decisions made by yourself or others in one moment in time that could go in any number of directions.

Kid said...

What makes it so interesting for me, Phil, is that I'd lived in 5 different houses by the time I was 13, and (as I once expounded in a post on the subject) each period seemed to be of equal duration, quite regardless of the actual time I spent in each house. It sometimes seems, therefore, like I had various alternate childhoods, leading me to speculate what it would have been like if any one of them had been the only one. Hope that makes some kind of sense.