If you do any kind of reflection activity, it always involves you thinking about the decisions you made in life and the trajectory that was created because of those choices. From interviews to journaling to meditation, we highlight the things that have influenced our lives – which college we attended, our upbringing, choice of a partner or having children, etc.
I like to spend some time thinking about the flip side of this – the choices I did not take or the moments that changed my path because of what I did not do. I wonder what would have happened if I would have taken the job in Seattle instead of St. Louis or if I had made a higher offer on a different house instead of ending up in the one I am in. I muse about what life would be like if I had not gotten married or if I had not divorced or what my health would be like now if I had accepted that first cigarette when it was offered.
My reality may be significantly impacted by consequences I did not even consciously make: did running five minutes late keep me away from an accident or choosing one seat on the plane over another prevent me from meeting a business partner? I think about the investment choices some broker in New York makes that impact my ability to retire or the regulations a politician makes that influence the air I breathe.
Our lives are an amalgamation of millions of tiny events – often far removed from us – that shape who we are and the world around us. On this Pearl Harbor Day, I think of all those who made choices that put them in peril’s way, and all those who averted disaster because of actions that had different consequences down the line.
The next time you are stressed about a decision you have to make, remember that we cannot control even a fraction of the decisions that impact us. Whether you do something or you don’t, or someone else does something that influences your life, all paths lead us to a place where we are destined to be.