This I Believe

Carol - Brookline, Massachusetts
Entered on June 26, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe everything works out okay in the end, but can I convince my children?

How can it not? The alternative is always wondering what might have been – trapped in an endless cycle of “should of, could of, would of.” Wasting time staring back at the past, instead of keeping my gaze firmly fixed in the present. Glimpsing back at some of the disappointments and traumas of my youth, I see they fall into two neat categories: “inconsequential” or “path altering.”

Inconsequential: The break-up with my boyfriend, the C+ on my first college English paper. Sure there were plenty of tears, and anguished telephone calls to friends and Mom, but what was his name, and the book’s? I guess that’s what defines the inconsequential. They’ve faded into the deepest recesses of my memory, only to be occasionally resurrected by a close friend, with a humorous memory related to my pain and suffering. “Carolina, don’t you remember?” is how the story typically starts.

Path Altering: Sure, everyone told me where I went to college would make a difference in my life. Who knew, nine years after graduation, at the wedding of a college friend living in Boston, whom I reconnected with when living in Maine, where I moved after declining the job in San Francisco, so I could travel with my then boyfriend for the summer in Europe, I would meet the man I would eventually marry? Who knew? I’m sure it made a difference in other ways, like the job with the boss who collected employees with Ivy League degrees with the same passion my kids had for collecting beanie babies. But path altering? Nah! That’s the thing about those path altering events and decisions; you can’t recognize them as such until long after the fact, and they usually aren’t the ones you expected.

So, as I struggle to provide the right-mix of moral support and guidance to the two teenagers under my roof, I hear myself repeating the wisdom of nameless philosophers from earlier times:

“View the glass half full, not half empty.”

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

And my Father’s favorite:

“Reached the end of your rope? Then tie a knot and hang-on.”