Wednesday, 20 October 2010

What if...

What if I’d made different choices when I was younger? Where would I be? What would I be doing now? I don't think I'm alone with such thoughts. Robert Frost wrote about two roads diverging in a wood in The Road Not Taken. He took the one ‘less travelled by’.

I marked the first for another day.
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

But what if he’d taken the first path instead? We’ll never know.

The song Crossroads, sung by Don Mclean, has a different take on this idea.

...there's no need for turning back
`cause all roads lead to where we stand...

The song implies that it doesn’t really matter what choices we make, life ends up pretty much the same anyway. We'll never know if that’s true either and it reminds me of the storyline for Gwyneth Paltrow in the film, Sliding Doors, but of course that’s a film. This is real life.

I often think ‘what if’. What if I’d never joined Val Moore’s creative writing class at Writing School Leicester? I’d still be teaching. I was never happy as a teacher but wasn’t sure what else I wanted to do. Creative writing was the answer but what if I’d never discovered that?

Then there’s the time I posted off a manuscript called Bathtime Rap. I almost didn’t bother. I’d received a few rejections that month and in my notebook I wrote, ‘posted off picture book ms to Franklin Watts today. What a waste of time!’ But it wasn’t a waste of time because it was accepted and became my first children’s picture book. What if I’d never sent it?

There’s a fine line between ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. When I was a teenager I was seriously thinking of moving to Israel when I met the man who became my first husband. I abandoned the plans and I often think ‘what if I’d gone?’ But I’d never, ever think ‘if only’ because then I wouldn’t have my two wonderful children.

There's no harm in the occasional 'what if' thoughts and I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks 'what if'... am I?

Rod update: Thank you so much for all your kind wishes. Rod went back into hospital last Thursday with a high temperature, shortness of breath and chest pains. He has fluid on the lungs and heart. The doctors think this is due to an infection that could have been there for the last month but wasn’t picked up when he was readmitted a few weeks ago. The positive thing is that they’re now doing a whole battery of tests to identify the type of infection and hopefully will be able to eradicate it before they discharge him once more.


  1. What's that saying? "You never regret the things you've done, only the things you didn't do." Life is too short for worrying about what might have happened, we should just try to be happy with the good stuff that has happened, and learn from the bad.

    I hope your OH is feeling more comfortable now, and that you can worry less, knowing he's in good hands.

    All the best.

  2. Hi Jane, that saying is so true! And thanks yes, I do feel a bit easier knowing he's in good hands.

  3. I love this post Rosalind. Yes, as Jane says we should be happy with our decisions or the paths we take, but I can't avoid thinking what ifs. And many times it's being thankful that I did take that path.
    I just read a book, Wasted by Nicola Morgan, where the hero lets a coin decide the route he should follow. I loved the book and it was very thought provoking.
    Great post Rosalind.

  4. Thanks, Sarah. I must get hold of a copy of Nicola's Wasted. It sounds like a really good read :-)

  5. Great post, and thanks for the update on hubs :) Sending good wishes your way!

  6. My goodness you've been on a roller coaster lately! You're due for a few long rides at the top!

    I love What If... It's such a good question :)

  7. What a thoughtful post, thank you! I've been thinking lately about the road not traveled--not because I wish I had, but because I'm endlessly curious. Each choice takes us past a little crossroads, which is why each choice we make is so important.

    Best wishes to Rod--it must be a relief to know all the tests are being done, even if the reason for them isn't what you'd want.

  8. Your posts do make me think Ros. Love and Best wishes to you and Rod. Good news that they are doing lots of tests and hopefully they eradicate the infection soon. Love Karan X

  9. The film Sliding Doors has always fascinated me. After watching it 6 times I still find something new to wonder at and mull over for hours afterwards. I go along with Don Mclean, that no matter how much we divert from our path, the twists and turns just bring us back to where we are. But………… like most other people I often think “What if”. Ok I know I can’t alter the past with its decisions and choices and ‘Yes’ if I had a chance I’d probably change loads but then if my theory is right I’d end up where I am anyway…………… ‘wow’ bit thought provoking this blog Ros. Got my little grey cells working again, so big thank you.
    As always - sending lots and lots of love to You and Rod x x x

  10. "What if " is often the way to begin the thought process for the best stories - as fiction writers know - but I only rarely think about it with regards to my life -
    although I've always loved Robert Frost's poem.

    I believe that every decision we make sends us in a particular direction, but if we decide it was the wrong decision it's often possible to change course.

    I'm not sure who said it, but I also agree that "if only" are the two saddest words in the English language.
    You can't change the past but continuing to regret what has been can certainly hold you back and stop you moving forward.

    One of our sons -in-law once said to me
    "I'm so glad you made aliyah and came to Israel .....
    and I expected him to add ' or I wouldn't have met and married Rivkah' ( our daughter)

    but he didn't - he said "or I would have had to travel to England to find her". He was so sure that she was his 'beshert' intended wife
    tht he was sure he would have met her but our coming to Israel made it easier for him and saved him crossing the world to find her.

  11. Hi Merrilee and Jemi and thanks for your kind thoughts.

    Hi Amie, yes those crossroads in our lives are a fascinating concept.

  12. Hi Karan and Rifka, glad to hear that my blog has got you both thinking!!

  13. Hi Ann, that's a useful point to remember that we can change decisions if we realise we've taken the wrong path... although it's not always as easy as it sounds.

    Your son-in-law sounds lovely. What a moving thing to say.

  14. I´m some what behind on my reading this week, hence why only now I´ve made it here. I loved your post and it reminded me of something CB an I often say when it comes to making those choices, we would rather regret doing them, than regret not having done them. Not that we want to regret anything, but for us it helps us to keep things in perspective.

    Glad on the update of your Rod, he´s in good hands and let´s hope the test results show up very soon what has caused his latest problems.

    Take care and as always, fluffy hugs from me and wet licks from the doggies. x

  15. I'm with Jane - we regret more the things we don't do.

    I do hope Rod gets well soon! Sending you both postive vibes!

  16. What you say about the difference between "What if" and "If only" is so true. A lot of people confuse the two, but they are so different- one is great, the other pointless.

  17. Hi Rayna. I wonder if maybe we're all guilty of confusing the two occasionally but I do agree with you. There's not point in 'if only'.


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