Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Better Life?

In response to my post, "Paradise Declined", a blog reader wrote, "I know that you live in a nice house with a lovely family but can you honestly say that there can be no improvement on that? Suppose you had taken a different direction at a crossroads earlier in life. You don't know that another decision would not have resulted in your life being even better."

I can think of many decisions that could have resulted in my life being better.

I could have decided to live the life of an ascetic and maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't have cancer now.

I could have decided not to take that teaching job in Philadelphia and gone to law school instead, like I'd planned. Then maybe I'd be a rich lawyer in New York by now and I wouldn't have to worry about my medical bills.

I could have decided not to get married or have kids. Then I'd be free to work with a non-profit group somewhere in Africa, which is what I wanted to do back in college. And then I wouldn't have to worry about making Tony a widower or Josie and Toby motherless.

But would all of these things make my life better? I don't think so. Not if Tony and the kids aren't with me.

Of course there are many things that could make my life better. Maybe I could have a nicer house, a great career, a perfect husband, perfectly well-behaved kids, fame, admiration, and riches beyond belief. But would I trade the imperfect life I have now for a glamorous, eternal life without my husband and kids? Absolutely not.

I don't want to speculate about what I could have had if I had taken a different direction earlier in my life. I'm sure we could all come up with fantasy lives that would make our real lives seem shabby, uninspired, unfulfilling. Maybe I'm shallow or unambitious, but I really don't need to have anything more than I already have - in an afterlife or even in this life. Less, yes. Less cancer would be good.


Leighbee said...

Is it not so that we should SOMEHOW realise the lives we are given AS our paradise?! I know it can be tough BUT even the tragedies mould our very existence. I don't know who maps out our lives and decides who gets the "bum end of the deals" BUT I DO know that I wouldn't change even the WORST times in my life! Being diagnosed with MS in the UK (and at the time severely disabled with it) meant my husband wasn't able to work for a year....this enabled us to spend prcious time turn he got to spend the quality time with his children that few working parents (especially Fathers) are able to have. Those intense months of Fatherhood are now a source of happy memories for him some 5 years after Harriet died and will ocntinue to be for all eternity....Until I got sick, he was working long hours, often overseas and always tired and grumpy when he finally got a day off..........I find myself in a strange situation now - the flip side of the coin I suppose? Desperate to "succeed" at something after having been a "mum and housewife" for so many years I have returned back to work FULL TIME having studied hard over the last couple of years to get myself qualified....HAPPY? FAR FROM IT! I now find my life overloaded with "work" in many guises and lay awake worrying about more than I have ever done before....I cry because I am rushing around too much and in turn not giving the kids all the attention I should be......SO......To sum up.....I wanted to exchange my "menial" life for a more fruitful one....the result? can work that out for yourself!
In the words of my Dad who emailed me this morning to try to "cheer me up".......
"Take time to smell the flowers"
Who REALLY wants to be a film star with all those weirdos stalking you and a personal life thats far from personal!
Who REALLY wants so much money that you don't actually appreciate the things you have.
Who REALLY wants a big house with all the dusting and tidying it brings with it?! (In fact, I have a big house - and I HATE it! It is NOT homely and I feel like I live in a hotel)
In short, I'm with you Shin.....


Anonymous said...