“Good things, sometimes, take time.”
– Character of Lou Mannheim in Wall Street (1987 film)
I don’t like regrets, and try to resist saying “If only I had done blah blah…” and so forth. Even when I do, my wife reminds me of what wonderful things I would have missed out on if I hadn’t taken the alternative, and she’s always completely correct.
In January we were talking about the year ahead, how fortunate we are, how much fun experiencing life has been, etc. But then I let an “If only” slip out.
I said “I shouldn’t have left Boston in 1996. It was supposed to be just for a few years, then I was going to return. It will be fifteen years this year since I left. I wouldn’t have moved if I had thought it would be this many years later and I’m still not back.”
For a moment I was in a bit of shock that I had expressed a regret like that. Sure, I had been feeling it for a long time, but I’d never let it slip out like that. However, my wife then surprised me with her reply. She agreed with me. She had nothing to counter my statement. The things I’ve done since leaving Boston could have just as easily been done there. I was on a defined path there and had plans and everything was in motion.
And I was so very happy. I loved living in Boston. I felt at home there immediately. My whole life I had wanted to live there, and once I arrived, everyone thought I’d never leave.
But an opportunity came along that required returning to the Midwest, and somehow I felt I should take it. I told myself it was only going to be for a few years, then I’d return, plus I could always visit on weekends and vacations.
Things didn’t turn out that way. And that was fine. Really. I’ve had a great time during the last fifteen years. Lived in a few places, had several jobs, met lots of fantastic people. Great experiences.
But I had a problem. In short, I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Twenty years ago I knew what I was supposed to do. Thirteen years ago I adjusted those goals and jumped on another path with a defined purpose that really excited me. However, about ten years ago I wandered off that path. Then while working on the goals and resolutions posts around the New Year, it began to sink in… I’ve been busy and engaged and learning and experiencing, but that overall goal or purpose was missing.
I was in a funk… now you see why I don’t like New Years resolutions 🙂 And I couldn’t find something to point to and say “That’s why I left Boston. This could not have happened if I had stayed there.” Fifteen years. I couldn’t find it.
Then it happened. Suddenly an opportunity appeared, a result of meeting the right people, working at the right places at the right times, having the right skills, being in the right city. The opportunity turned into an offer for a job that I’m starting this Monday morning.
When I received the job offer, my wife and I were jumping around for joy, and I suddenly looked at her and said “This is why I left Boston fifteen years ago!” She agreed with a definite “There is no way this would have happened if you had stayed in Boston. Not possible.” She and I continued on listing all the things I’ve done and how they led to this job offer. I’m going to be doing what I am supposed to be doing, and it’s consistent with the path I started on twenty years ago. Only better.
“I shouldn’t have left Boston in July 1996” has become “Thank goodness I left when I did!”