Do you ever reflect back on your life and consider the potentially huge magnitude of those sliding doors moments? I do. I sometimes think about the “what if’s” and the alternative pathways that could have been. Some bad and some good.
My husband, Phil, and I were sitting at our favourite spot enjoying lunch together recently when we got to chatting about this very subject. We contemplated times in our lives when we turned down one road, when we could have chosen the other, and what the alternative could have meant to our paths.
We were chatting about our families, and he told me the incredible story about his grandfather.
My husband’s grandfather fought in the Second World War. His job was to guard one of the jetties along the beach. Little did he know that on one fateful day, there was a German soldier sneaking up on him from underneath that jetty.
He turned suddenly after hearing a noise and yelled, “who goes there?”. The soldier lunged at him with a knife to stab him. Phil’s grandfather turned around at the last moment and shot the soldier, killing him. It was kill or be killed.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be faced with that situation.
That split second in time could have just as easily been very different. It could have meant that Phil’s entire family may not exist. History could have been very different. Thinking about the possibilities of the scenario, it seems like the scene of a movie.
If you think about all the people we interact with throughout our lives, it must be in the millions. In public places, across the globe while travelling, working environments, social interactions and personal relationships. I often think about the part that we, as individuals, may play in other people’s lives and how we may have potentially influenced them in their paths.
I find the concept of sliding doors moments quite epic! Just thinking about Phil’s grandfather, and that he almost lost his life, makes me think about how many lives would have also been changed by that one event. It reminds me of the movies The Butterfly Effect, starring Ashton Kutcher, and Sliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. The first is a bit more sinister than the other, but both provoke thoughts of our own lives and what may or may not have been.
I think of this in relation to my own life. I always wonder what life would have been like if my Mum hadn’t passed away when she did. My path changed entirely after her death. I didn’t pursue the career that I was originally interested in and ended up working in places I never thought I would! All of this, in turn, has brought people into my life that I may not have otherwise connected with. Some of those people led me to new opportunities, and some have influenced my decisions.
Those who were my family in the beginning of my life ended up being completely different. My Dad remarried after my Mum passed away, and we inherited a whole new family. Our kids, who have grown up together as cousins, may not have been if my Dad and Step-Mum didn’t meet through their blind date all those years ago!
Would I have even ever been through my breast cancer journey if life had been different?
We will never know. And I am at peace with that.
I wonder from the perspective of curiosity, not regret or resentment. It is what it is, and all I can do is move forward.
All any of us can do is deal with the right here, right now. If we stay stuck in the past, always wondering what may have been, we sabotage the future. We never give ourselves the chance to fully embrace all that has made us who we are today. The more we let go of what has been, the more we embrace who we want to become in the future.
My illness has taught me so much about letting go of the past. I had a sore neck from constantly looking at what was behind me! Now, I am grateful for all I have experienced. Every experience and event has given me the opportunity to choose a greater level of awareness in life.
It is so much more fun to think of who I am becoming and what I have to look forward to.
It is so much more exciting to think of the possibilities for the future.
Hurts from the past can be difficult to move on from. It can feel uncomfortable to face them and work through them. But wouldn’t it be worth it if I told you that your life will be completely different if you do?
With love, Ali