I often hear people say they wish they could have a "do-over" -- to be able to go back and change a decision they made or a direction they chose earlier in their lives.
It's true that in life there are those times when we all face forks in the road; places where we are presented with choices about how to proceed. Once the choice has been made, we either live with the results and consequences, or try to back track to see if we can return to where the choice was made and somehow change direction. The problem is we can never really get back to the exact point where the original choice was made; something has changed; things are different; the way is not so clearly marked.
So we live with the choice we have made, along with the "what ifs" and the "if onlys" and the "I wonders."
We think ...
"If I had turned right instead of left at that intersection, where might it have taken me?"
"I wonder what might have happened if I had ...?"
"If only I had done 'this' instead of 'that' things would have been different."
"What if I had followed my heart instead of my head?"
And we press on down the road we have chosen.
To be fair, that road isn't always filled with regret. Many times the fork we take leads to new places and introduces us to people who make a huge difference in our lives. Along the way we face new forks and hope we take the right one, always a little weary of having to choose at all.
At times the choice seems simple enough; the track plainly marked by the footprints of the many who have gone that direction before. But there is always another choice -- someone has called it the road less traveled. Some tend always to favor the latter.
The roads we choose may lead us away from all we know to be secure and steady; away from friends and family and comfortable surroundings. But along the way, if we are true to ourselves, we are apt to find new friends, new family, greater security, and a firm place to stand.
Even so, we may still look back and ask ... "What if?" And that's OK ... As long as we don't live there.
When we start living life looking backward we lose sight of where we are and where we're going; we stumble; sometimes we fall. When we are always looking back we lose sight of those who are present in our lives, and we end up hurting them or losing them, or both.
The truth is we seldom get "do-overs."
But we will always face forks in the road; life's crossroads; those "right or left at Main Street" moments.
The challenge is to always choose wisely.