There’s an alternate timeline in which I studied linguistics in college, learned multiple languages, and now that me works as a translator for the UN or something. There’s another timeline version of me who didn’t have an abortion, became a parent at age 19, and still works the same dissatisfying job because of the benefits and retirement plan. Another alternate timeline me didn’t stop with a bachelors, stayed in academia another decade, and is now a professor at some college or university. I think about these other potential me’s sometimes, but not with any regret.
I'm glad I took the forks in the road that brought me to where I am right now. And I enjoy the thought exercise of what outcomes could have resulted from different choices. I realized this week that it’s still possible to walk some of those alternate paths. I've been in the tax and forensic accounting profession for the past 20 years, but the only thing keeping me in this industry is the choice I make every day to continue doing this work. There's nothing that says I can't do something completely different for the next decade of my existence.
Granted there may be other barriers to some of the alternate options. I loved building stone walls, steps, and other features in my garden the last few years, so I could start becoming a stone mason tomorrow. But I’m about to be 39 and that line of work is intensely physically demanding. If I want my one and only body to accompany me all the way to old age (assuming we still have a planet to live on), it might not be the best choice to start wrecking it now. Then again, maybe my accumulated experience with physical movement, my strength, and my body connection would facilitate learning a physically taxing job in a way that doesn’t wear-out my body prematurely.
That potential outcome will likely remain a mystery because I don't actually want to become a stone mason. I'm not sure I want to stay as an accountant forever, but the longer I linger the easier it is to just keep on staying. Learning a new trade or starting a new business would take effort. Probably more effort than it takes me to continue my current career path. But that's the beauty of cross-over skills. All the things I've learned doing one thing in my life don't only apply to that one thing.
Just like martial arts principles. They obviously have an application in fighting and self-defense, but they also apply just as readily to regular life. Take set-ups as an example. When I'm sparring I want to set myself up mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I want to set my opponent up with fakes and by using distance, timing, speed, etc. In the workplace I also want to set myself up mentally, physically, emotionally. I want to set my bosses and colleagues up to see the good work I'm doing and to feel comfortable providing me feedback. I want to set my clients up by communicating appropriate expectations. Outside work I want to set my relationships up with clear communication, agreements, and check-ins.
Employing martial arts principles everywhere I can in my life has resulted in some enjoyable outcomes. I ended a toxic marriage and began to heal those wounds. I started a business, maintained it through a pandemic, and continue to grow it seven years on. I have built a supportive community at home and around me. In a similar way, I'm sure I can apply just about everything I've learned as an accountant, investigator, and business owner to some other profession.
One thing is for sure: whatever timeline I’m in right now will become the result of all my accumulated choices, actions, and inactions. Just like the dock brawl in Alabama that everybody is talking about this week. A couple jerks refused to move their boat and decided what they should do instead was attack the riverboat employee who told them they needed to relocate. Then a lot of other people decided to participate. Some helped and some just made things worse for themselves or others. A whole bunch of people making choices. And a whole pile of consequences resulting from all those choices.
I'm working diligently to make sure wherever Future Me ends up is somewhere I intended to be. My future may not look exactly how I envision it now, but that's not as important as getting there. And significantly less important than how I got there. I'm not going to help build a new kind of world where everyone is free and taken care of by using the tactics of oppression and exploitation our current world is made out of. I've got to make different choices. We all have to make different choices.
And the small, personal choices are where it all begins. I have to choose to take care of Present Me in order for Future Me to thrive. I have to work through all the trauma from my past to unburden my future of all that baggage. I have to practice being present in the current moment before I can hope to be present for the moments coming next. And I have to remember that I can choose something different at any moment for any reason. We're making it all up as we go anyway. And none of us know what's coming until it gets here.
A lot of what we think matters doesn't actually matter. You could go so far as to say nothing matters. Nothing matters, so everything matters. Every single moment is an opportunity to create something; anything. Whatever we want! It's not too late to live-out some alternate timeline version of my life. I really can do and be just about anything. I can be everything if I want, I just can’t do it all at the same time. So I'll choose something for now. And then I'll chose something every next moment for as long as I continue to exist on this planet.
Information and Inspiration
Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.