Have you ever wondered what life would be like if it were a Choose Your Own Adventure book? You’d be presented with choices along the way and those choices would affect the direction your life took and then you’d get more choices based on your first choices… Oh.
Okay, so life is a Choose Your Own Adventure book. With one exception – you can’t go back. In a book, if you find yourself on the edge of a cliff with an army of zombies advancing behind you, you just go back to page 7 and choose the bridge instead of the secret tunnel. In real life, finding yourself adrift in a sea of unemployment, you can’t go back and choose the other course of study that would have led to a lifelong fulfilling career.
I took my eldest son to a university open day yesterday. Surrounded by young things buzzing with future possibilities, I’ll admit to an element of wistfulness and ‘if only’s. What if I could go back and make different choices?
Which is a pointless question, really. Quite apart from the fact that you just can’t go back in time (well, unless a raggedy man in a big blue box happens to land in your back garden and even then he’d get grumpy if you wanted to go back and change your life, pointing out the likelihood of tearing a hole in the space-time continuum), it would only be worthwhile if you could go back as the person you are now. If you went back as the person you were then, surely you’d just make the same choices? Life changes us. Our experience of the world changes our world view, our interactions with people changes our humanity, knowledge gained and opportunities lost make us who we are.
As much as I loathe the “You’re never too old”, “It’s never too late”, “I knew a woman who completed her PhD in English Literature at age 92” mantras, they have a point. Given the assumption of non-time travel (Time Lords aside), you have to either subscribe to the possibility of change, however late in life, or stay as you are and accept your lot.
On reflection, I think I’ll take the former. Now, where’s that Undergraduate Course Guide….