If Only...

March 24, 2004

The past few days have been filled with the ever enjoyable "if only" game. If only I hadn't been so curious about interconnecting computers through a firewall. If only I hadn't taken this job in Illinois. If only..., if only.

I understand that "if only" is an entirely human reaction to traumatic events. It's part of how we process a life changing event that happens outside of our control. Losing your job may or may not be the worst thing that happens in your lifetime, but it certainly isn't fun.

In my moments of despair and defeat the "if onlys" weigh heavily on me. Looking back at my life all I can see are the "wrong" choices, the places where I made the choices that led to my current situation. There are two problems with this line of thinking. One, you can't go back and undo the choice. Once made you have to suffer or enjoy the consequences. And two, even if you could travel back in time to alter your decision, you'd lose all the good parts of your life today.

You see your life today, good and bad, is the sum of all your prior actions. Eliminate the ones you think are bad or wrong, and you also eliminate the result of the good ones. Usually talking to Michele helps me to see that I really didn't do anything wrong in this case, or in the past. Talking to her also reenforces the part of my life that is still good. Losing my job may have thrust us into a period of turmoil and upset, but it hasn't altered the trust or love we have for each other.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.