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Choose Your Own Adventure

March 27, 2011

SPECIAL NOTE: this post was ‘Freshly Pressed’ on April 25, 2011.What If?

Do you ever play the ‘What if?’ game with yourself?  You know the one I mean – “What if I’d travelled instead of going to college right out of high school?”  “What if I hadn’t married my high school sweetheart?” “What if I’d hung on to that cute little house [that’s now worth almost a million dollars]?” “What if I’d taken that job in [some exotic location]?” “What if I hadn’t won the lottery?” (just kidding).  What if … What if … What if …

I suppose we all have wishes and dreams that never came true – things we wanted to try, places we could have travelled, paths we might have taken, people we may possibly have loved. Over the years, the number of ‘what ifs’ seem to grow and accumulate, leaving us to wonder how our lives might have turned out ‘if only’ we’d done things differently (at one time or another).

When my boys were little, they used to read books in the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ (CYOA) series.  These books were written in the second person (‘you’ as the protagonist) and every-so-many pages you had to make a choice.  Depending on which option you selected, you jumped to another page (forward or back) in the book (e.g., ‘You decide to follow Amy into the forest. Go to page 10’ ‘You decide to listen to your own instincts and go home. Go to page 12’) and continued the adventure – until you had to make another choice … then another, and another, and another … and so on until the end (there were generally a dozen or more different ‘endings’ for each book).

Choose Your Own Adventure BookThe great thing with these little books (each was 400 paragraphs / about 144 pages) was that they could be read many different times and each time it was a new story experience (and probable ending).  And while the reader might recall some of the scenarios used (because you jumped in and out of various scenes based on the alternatives offered at any number of points in the story), each time you made a different selection, you took a different path and ended up in a different place.  SPECIAL NOTE: here’s a flowchart showing the various paths and outcomes for CYOA #2 – Journey Under the Sea.

I started to wonder how my life would look as a CYOA book.  How many different paths – and outcomes – might there be?  Where would I be now if I’d chosen differently? What would I be doing? And who would I be doing it with?  The starting point, of course, would be to map out my life as I have lived it (to date).  But then – providing I could let go (in my mind only, of course) of certain ‘attachments’ (my home, my career, my kids, my husband, my cat) and go wild with my imagination – I could rewrite my life’s story with all the ‘what ifs’ fully explored.  What fun!

Here’s how it might start:

Choose Your Own Adventure #55+ ‘The Search for Lost Opportunities’

High School Newspaper Staff, 1970(Page 1) You live in a small town in southern Ontario, Canada, the fourth child in a family of five.  You’ve led a reasonably uneventful life until now – a middle class existence in a middle class neighbourhood in a middle class town.  You are a straight A student who works part-time in a local retail store. You spend your Saturday nights attending dances at the local YMCA, and Sunday nights at the movies with a small group of friends.  Some of your classmates plan to go to work right out of high school, others have already applied to University, and some are unsure of their future.  However, after working on the school newspaper, you know exactly what career path you want to follow.

(Page 2) You make an appointment with your high school guidance counsellor and your parents attend the meeting with you.  You announce that you want to be a journalist.  Shocked, the counsellor says journalism is not an appropriate career choice for a young girl and suggests you consider becoming a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary instead.  Your parents agree, adding that they can’t afford to pay for three or more years of college anyway.

You listen to the guidance counsellor and enrol in a one-year secretarial course at the local community college.  Go to page 3.

You apply for a student loan and register in a journalism diploma program.  Go to page 5.

Diploma(Page 5)  Three years later, you have earned your journalism diploma, graduating at the top of your class.  Your passion is writing personal interest stories.  Based on a number of articles about local civic officials that you penned as writing assignments and included in your portfolio, your hometown newspaper offers you an administrative position with the ‘added responsibility’ of writing articles about community events. This means you can live in your hometown, continue seeing the nice, dependable boy you started dating in high school, and earn a steady income with the local paper (although there would be little chance of promotion or more challenging assignments in the near future).

(Page 6) Two weeks before graduation, you hear back from one of the many (other) jobs you applied to. A large daily newspaper in Toronto (‘The City’) offers you a fairly low-paying junior copy-editing position, with the opportunity for promotion within six months to a year.  The environment would be extremely fast-paced, and exciting.  Your best friend has already accepted a fashion design job in the city and offers to share an apartment with you.  Your boyfriend and your parents are very unhappy about the idea of you accepting this job and moving to the city.

You take the job in your hometown.  Go back to page 3.

You take the job in the city.  Go to page 7.

Of course, you can see where this is going.  I get to ‘fill in the blanks’ with all the choices I didn’t make, all the people I never met, all the opportunities I missed.  By writing my own adventure, I can choose to remake my life the way I thought it was going to turn out. For better or for worse.

Choices We MakeWe make choices every single moment of every single day:  Coffee or tea? Cereal or toast? Yes or no? Left or right?  Open or close? Stop or go? Up or down? Buy or sell? Leave or stay?  Each one changes the outcome of our life’s adventure.  And who’s to say which is ‘right or wrong’?  Does anyone even know?  Some people say our lives are predetermined – completely mapped out for us even before we are born. Others suggest that we are completely on our own – that we make our own choices and set our own courses minute-by-minute. I’m somewhere in the middle, I suppose.  I believe in fate, not coincidence.  I’m convinced that certain people are destined to show up in our lives when we need them, that opportunities present themselves when we’re ready for them, that we have to experience pain and fear and loss in order to appreciate love and joy and happiness when we have it.  In order for me to be where I am today, I had to go through all the things I have experienced up to this point.  But were some of the people I met, the places I saw, the things I did placed in my path so that I would ‘choose’ them? I like to think so.

In the end I imagine all the paths of my CYOA story would wind up at the same ‘last page’ – I would come back to my hometown, give birth to my boys, take the job that ultimately leads to meeting my husband, make that last-minute decision to look at a house I was sure I wasn’t interested in buying, quit my job to pursue a career in writing.  Because this is exactly the page I’m supposed to be on when I reached … the other side of 55.

Life Is All About Choices

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244 Comments
  1. May 26, 2011 2:39 am

    But u need to find out the thing that excites u first, right??? I just find it very hard to find out what I m really excited about~~~~~~

    • May 26, 2011 10:10 am

      Try lots of different things – you’ll find something! I didn’t think I’d like teaching until I was asked to do one course – then I found I loved it and was very good at it! There are lots of opportunities out there – don’t turn down anything you haven’t tried before! Good Luck.

      Margo

  2. May 23, 2011 6:45 am

    I used to love these! Thanks for the post – it just sent me back down memory lane and the days I would spend reading these!

    http://leeschmidt.wordpress.com

  3. iosognodisonno permalink
    May 1, 2011 2:29 pm

    Nice Post. I’m 25 and in the midst of a pretty considerable transition period. Six months ago I felt I had a pretty good grasp on who I was and what I wanted out of the (near) future, but recent decisions and experiences have made that certainty much more muddled and blurry.

    There’s something very comforting about coming across a piece like this right now, which helps put this moment of my life in perspective. Yes, whatever I decide now will irrevocably influence what my life looks like moving forward, but at some point, I’ll look back on this moment as one of many that contributed to the person I ultimately become. Thanks for sharing the insight of your experiences.

    • May 1, 2011 3:54 pm

      At 25 you are just beginning your life’s journey, and you’ll have lots of decisions to make and adventures to have before you end up where you are ‘supposed’ to be. Know that whatever avenues you travel, you’ll reach your perfect destination. Good Luck.

      Margo

    • jennifermarie permalink
      May 22, 2011 9:43 pm

      I am currently going through the same thing at the age of 25. It is scary when your life changes drastically, but I believe everything happens for a reason. Good luck in finding your way!

      • May 23, 2011 9:00 am

        And the same to you … at 25, you’ve got a long way to go!

        Margo

  4. April 30, 2011 8:16 pm

    But u need to find out the thing that excites u first, right??? I just find it very hard to find out what I m really excited about~~~~~~

    • May 1, 2011 8:01 am

      Sometimes it takes many years to find your passion, but it does reveal itself eventually. There are several books and web sites available that can assist you in determining why you are ‘here’ but generally, deep down, you know what you like to do and what you are good at. Keep at it – you’ll find it!

      Margo

  5. April 29, 2011 6:03 pm

    You are amazing! I have noticed that you not only listen with keen ears to those that write to you, but you reply with a very unique and individual response to each comment. Your flexibility in thought is commendable. Subscribed!

    • April 29, 2011 9:43 pm

      Thank you for your very kind words. I believe if people take the time to comment on my work, I should take just as much time to read and consider their words, and respond in kind. Welcome to my blog!

      Margo

  6. April 29, 2011 5:29 pm

    Wow, what an amazing post! I have been thinking about all the ‘what ifs’ a lot lately. It’s great to read something so well written and captivating on the topic. And you’re right: ‘all roads lead to Rome’ 😉

  7. April 29, 2011 10:34 am

    This is a great post – makes you think. Sometimes when faced with choices we can paralyze ourselves by analyzing all the possible outcomes. Of course, nobody can imagine all the serendipitous events that will occur just by putting the ball in motion. I think the lesson here is to just keep pressing forward – who would want only the world we can imagine, without all the twists and turns we didn’t think of!

  8. April 28, 2011 9:32 pm

    When I was younger (like 6), my mother asked me to help her in the kitchen. Of course I never wanted to, but she really needed my help. So instead of playing with my smaller sister and brother, I was at the kitchen. At first, I cried and I didn’t do what my mother asked me to, but a few years later I started to like it, the way my mother cooked, the way she prepared food, it was amazing.

    Now that I finish my career, I always wonder, “What if I’d hadn’t helped her at the kitchen?” Would I still feel this passion for food?, I don’t know that, but I am so happy that my mother did it. I can not imagine my life in other place that is not a kitchen.

    PD. Chef

    • April 29, 2011 9:57 am

      What a wonderful story. So many things influence our lives; this was certainly one of them. Thank you for sharing.

      Margo

  9. Kate McClare permalink
    April 28, 2011 1:44 am

    Enjoyed this a lot – very creative! Whenever I have “what if” thoughts, I ask myself, What if you are actually living a second-chance “do over” because you had made even worse choices in another version of your life?

    • April 28, 2011 8:45 am

      Wow – I hadn’t thought of it that way! Very interesting idea – THIS life might be our ‘alternate reality’. That’s a sobering thought. Thanks (I think) for sharing.

      Margo

  10. ashleyturney permalink
    April 27, 2011 9:21 pm

    I was always told, “What if is a failure seeking question.” That still holds true! Thanks for the reminder to exclude doubt and regret and choose to move forward.

    • April 27, 2011 9:44 pm

      You are right – if you are looking for ‘answers’, ‘what if’ won’t give them to you! But it does provide an opportunity to weigh your options (or think about the choices you have made). Thanks for the comment.

      Margo

  11. husainiadam permalink
    April 27, 2011 11:59 am

    a nice post, good job

  12. husainiadam permalink
    April 27, 2011 11:58 am

    great post

  13. April 27, 2011 10:53 am

    At least I now know that I’m not the only one that turns her life into a choose your own adveture book.

    • April 27, 2011 5:22 pm

      I’m pretty sure most of us do, at one time or another!

      Margo

  14. April 27, 2011 6:32 am

    Excellent post. I have grown up reading all such stories…… Especially I want to mention Malgudi Days – By R.K Nayaranan…..
    Apart from the post what I have liked most about your blog is that you communicate well to every user……

    • April 27, 2011 7:27 am

      It’s interesting to see that these books were written in all languages. Thanks for sharing.

      Margo

  15. April 26, 2011 7:33 pm

    Just ran across your post and really enjoyed it Margo. I really like the creativeness in the way that you write. Playing the “what if’s” game the way you described is such a positive way to look at life. Your outlook resonates with me.

    I find in my profession that many times people feel paralyzed by the “what ifs”, thus leaving them feeling stuck in their situation. I love that there have been books written to help a person get out of this mindset. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Pam

    • April 26, 2011 9:48 pm

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. As much as it can be difficult to make decisions, in the end we all have to do it (and hope for the best!)

      Margo

  16. April 26, 2011 4:24 pm

    I used to love choose your own adventure books. I try not to think about it too much in relation to my life, though… I’ve often wondered about those “what ifs” to the point of depression, but when I’m at my lowest it helps me to remind myself that without all the bad times I went through, I wouldn’t be where I am now, and where I am now is pretty awesome. 🙂

    • April 26, 2011 4:29 pm

      The good and the bad always balance out in the end. Glad you like where you are now!

      Margo

  17. April 26, 2011 3:23 pm

    Great blog. I think everyone plays the ‘what if’ game at some point in life. But I agree, I think everything happens for a reason, and instead of saying ‘what if’ we should be thankful for the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met. 🙂

    • April 26, 2011 4:18 pm

      Thank you for commenting. I agree that the path we’re on is destined for us.

      Margo

  18. April 26, 2011 3:13 pm

    a great post! (:

  19. April 26, 2011 2:37 pm

    What if, you get your blog Freshly Pressed?

    If so, go to page 4,883
    If not go back to page 2

    Congrats.

    Blessings,
    Ava
    xox

    • April 26, 2011 4:19 pm

      Exactly! Thanks for putting being ‘Freshly Pressed’ into perspective. It’s been a crazy (but wonderful) adventure!

      Margo

  20. Delorfinde permalink
    April 26, 2011 2:10 pm

    You can write this sort of story on Protagonize.com. It’s really clever. You’ll read all the branches through and when you get to the end of where the others have written, unless it’s a ‘finished’ story, you can choose one of the branches they left and write your own chapter, and then leave branches for the next person … it’s very clever!

    I hate decisions, because I’m a total what-if kind of person. I hate not knowing what’s going to happen and I constantly look back … oh, if only I’d done that … which is bad enough in an adult, but I’m only 15! I’m not supposed to feel this way already! *sigh*

    • April 26, 2011 4:21 pm

      I’ll have to check that site out. Thanks! Don’t worry that decisions you make will be ‘wrong’ – you’ll end up where you are supposed to be. Have faith in yourself! You’ve got a long way to go yet!

      Margo

  21. Bella's permalink
    April 26, 2011 2:00 pm

    Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.
    I can relate to every single word that has been said here!
    Yesterday I published a post about myself which I found it very similar here.
    Please visit me. The post called: Tales of Bella #2
    Great, great job!

    • April 26, 2011 4:22 pm

      Great minds think alike (or so they say). I’ll check out your post. Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  22. April 26, 2011 12:36 pm

    I am nearing the end of my forties and look back at what I ‘should have done.’ It is not pleasant. I only hope I can direct my children to better decisions.

    • April 26, 2011 4:25 pm

      Perhaps some of our ‘mistakes’ were made so that we could help others (e.g., our children) make better choices (I can’t remember how many times I’ve said to my kids ‘You can learn from my mistakes’). Life does get better as you get older!

      Margo

  23. April 26, 2011 12:34 pm

    Ohhh!..the places you’ll go…!

    Great post!

    • April 26, 2011 4:26 pm

      … and the places we’ve been!! Thanks for the positive feedback.

      Margo

  24. April 26, 2011 12:32 pm

    A magnificent post. Keep up the good work and congratulation on being Freshly Pressed. We are hoping that our blog (http://postcardlocker.wordpress.com/) will be Freshly Pressed someday. Unfortunately we don’t have any good writer yet – but someday we hope to (smile) before we reach the other side of 55.

    • April 26, 2011 4:27 pm

      I’m glad you liked the post. Keep working at it and hopefully you’ll be Freshly Pressed in the future.

      Margo

  25. April 26, 2011 11:58 am

    Great post. I think “what if” all the time. I would change pretty much all of my decisions if I had the wisdom that I now have. But then again you can only work with what you have at the time. I am finding it very difficult to believe that I am 51. It really does seem like its all down hill from here. It’s as if we are in a game of sorts with no knowledge of the time we have. Almost a musical chairs sort of game.

    • April 26, 2011 12:03 pm

      Enjoy being 51 – because 55+ comes real fast! Wisdom comes with age; all we can do is marvel at where we ended up and realize its because we did what we did. Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  26. April 26, 2011 11:31 am

    I got chill bumps with your last line. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Merci. Soon to be 54.

    • April 26, 2011 11:34 am

      That’s a good thing, right?!?!? I’m glad you enjoyed the post – and don’t ‘fret’ about your age – like all good things in life, you’ll just get better with age!

      Margo

  27. April 26, 2011 10:45 am

    I have said this exact thing – I wish my life was a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book and I could go back and see where other paths might have led. I double majored in Government and Italian, then went on to a Masters in Nutrition & Exercise Science…so many choices and possible paths even within these two major branches. Wonderful post, love it!

    • April 26, 2011 11:22 am

      Science fiction writers often use the idea of a ‘parallel universe’ to show what our lives would be like in an ‘alternate reality’. If we knew how things ‘might have been’, though, would we change what we have/have done? I guess it’s one of those universal questions. Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  28. April 26, 2011 10:20 am

    very nice post margo…

    i too, as so many have mentioned, have questioned my choices but do find the very wisdom that you have spoken about…i do believe i am exactly where i am suppose to be right now…however, am a bit more contemplative when i reach that fork in the road…

    i am not sure where i am heading, i just know that it will be an adventure or at the very least…something worth learning

    i enjoyed your post and will come back for more…

    • April 26, 2011 11:25 am

      I believe we all navigate those ‘forks’ the best we can. Someone told me once that given a choice of two paths, ‘most’ people choose the one on the right (perhaps because most people are right handed?!?!?), and that’s why the left side lines at places like DisneyWorld are always shorter! Something to think about. Thanks for commenting, and for visiting my blog.

      Margo

  29. April 26, 2011 9:48 am

    What a fun post! Love this idea! And congrats of being FP-ed. It’s a wild ride and another “what if.”
    Kathy

    • April 26, 2011 11:26 am

      I’ve certainly been overwhelmed the past couple of days with comments, “likes”, and subscriptions – thanks to being Freshly Pressed. It’s been great! Glad you liked my post.

      Margo

  30. April 26, 2011 9:24 am

    Great story. I have often thought myself- what if I hadn’t gone to the party where I met my future husband, or gone to the school I chose or … the possibilities are endless and overwhelming if you think about it too much. I too grew up when career options for girls were teacher, secretary or nurse, except my parents put the kabosh on nurse because that didn’t sound like a good career to them. (Glad I didn’t listen to them on that one!)

    Congrats on being FP’d!

    • April 26, 2011 9:45 am

      Thanks for your comment. My mother (at 93) still asks if I ‘regret’ not going into journalism and I have to say ‘no, not really’ because I did LOVE teaching (although I came to that through a sort of convoluted process) and its where I met my husband. So it all turned out okay – AND I get to write now that I’ve reached an age where I can explore my true path.

      Margo

  31. April 26, 2011 8:45 am

    fantastic post Margo!!! As a woman/lady just ‘over the hill and still travelling’, I so identify with your post. I look back today at the various forks in the road and at the decisions I made, wondering how my life would have turned out if 1) I had disobeyed my Mother and refused to go through with my first marriage. 2) If I had contacted my daughter’s father when I first found I was pregnant instead of 15 years later 3) If I had stayed in Cape Town in 1976 instead of returning to Johannesburg. 4) If I had looked for another job in 2001 after being retrenched instead of saying “to heck with it” and gone on holiday to Ireland 5) if I had returned to South Africa after the holiday instead of cancelling my ticket and staying in London!
    so many forks, so many decisions made that could have sent me in another direction.
    But like you, I am somewhere in the middle. I sit between destiny and co-incidence and believe that we take the path we are meant to and even if we sometimes deviate and take a short-cut, somehow we end up where we are most meant to be. I look back and I have no regrets with the choices I made, despite some of them being disastrous, they have taught me what I know, and that has been the best part of reaching the good old age of 55+….
    Congratulations on being ‘Freshly Pressed’ I will be sure to subscribe to future posts. Have a great day
    Cindy
    @notjustagranny who is over the hill and still learning 🙂

    • April 26, 2011 9:49 am

      Wow – you’ve had quite the adventurous life – have you ever thought of writing a book about it? I often wonder how many of our memories are “coloured” by our own view of “what could have been”? (And, of course, there are all the things we simply DON’T remember because they didn’t seem important at the time!) Glad you enjoyed the post and welcome to my blog.

      Margo

  32. rhiannonrhythm permalink
    April 26, 2011 8:43 am

    Loved the way you presented the ‘what-if’ scenario! Felt like somebody read my mind and carved them in to a beautiful piece of writing.

    Thanks

    • April 26, 2011 9:51 am

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad my writing touched you.

      Margo

  33. April 26, 2011 6:41 am

    Well done on FP! Well deserved. I remember as a kid I always wished my life was like a CYOA book. If only…

    • April 26, 2011 11:26 am

      Thanks! “If only” we could all be Freshly Pressed at least once!

      Margo

  34. April 26, 2011 5:38 am

    I remember those books but I enjoy the text based choose your own adventure games best. They are called interactive fiction and are rather addictive.

    As for my own adventure, I have some small regrets but my path is still ahead of me.

    • April 26, 2011 11:27 am

      Regrets are inevitable, I suppose. But life still has a lot of surprises for you, I’m sure. Thanks for your comment.

      Margo

  35. realanonymousgirl2011 permalink
    April 26, 2011 2:56 am

    Congrats on getting ‘pressed.’ I play this game all the time, but it’s more regarding the future. Like what if I won the lottery. What if I decide to go back to school. What if I end up having two more children. Once in a great while I’ll think about the past and think what if I went to medical school or what if I never moved to California. But it always seems better now than what those options would have been. Shoulda, coulda, woulda…..enjoy the the now.

    • April 26, 2011 11:28 am

      So many choices, so little time … Thanks for your comments.

      Margo

  36. April 26, 2011 2:49 am

    Nice post! I loved the words you put in here! Life is about what we make of it, and along the way, we always end up in that page of options. What we choose to do is going to affect the next available page of options. Hopefully though, whichever we choose, it will make us happy eventually. I don’t believe much in fate or in coincidences, only in options we make. Nevertheless, there are times when we can’t help but wonder whether destiny or luck is real or not. No matter, I just hope we can all just enjoy the gift of life and learn from what we experience. Whatever we do anyway is always an adventure to look forward to. 🙂

    • April 26, 2011 11:30 am

      I don’t think there’s any way of knowing which choices we are ‘expected’ to make (through destiny, fate) and which are actually just ‘luck of the draw’. Either way, we end up where we are because it IS where we are!

      Margo

      • April 27, 2011 7:35 am

        Yup, that’s right! We have no way of knowing what is actually “best” for us, or else, we could have probably planned out our lives way long before we reach a particular point. However, I guess whatever we choose, it almost always turns out to be the “best” choice although we regret it at times.

  37. April 26, 2011 2:32 am

    Very well written article….

  38. April 26, 2011 2:23 am

    Very beautiful post…
    throughout the post I was thinking about my stages of life till date where I have made choices and consequently today I am where I am or what I am.

    You ar very right …life is all about choices. But God has his own way of drifting our minds too at the time of choosing, so that we can walk the way he’s crafted for us…that’s why sometimes we wonder…how could I make that decision???

    Cheers

    • April 26, 2011 11:32 am

      Thanks for your thoughts. Certainly there are forces beyond ourselves that have some ‘say’ in where we end up and who’s to know how much influence they have over us? Something to ponder.

      Margo

  39. April 26, 2011 1:56 am

    My what IF game took me to Thailand http://allansjourney.wordpress.com and I having great fun. Congrats on been freshly pressed.

  40. April 26, 2011 1:10 am

    Cool.Really helpful.

  41. April 26, 2011 12:48 am

    I used to love CYOU books. I’d read the original series AND any other versions and copycats that came along.

    Life is indeed an adventure,with so many different paths to choose from! It seems as if the words that plunge us deep into thought are “What If”…

    Nice post and congratz on being FP!

    • April 26, 2011 11:36 am

      … and the adventure never ends. Thanks for the kind words.

      Margo

  42. rjwhittaker permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:44 pm

    I loved this post and it definitely set me thinking back over mylife and choices and kicked off quite a few ideas for short stories – always a bonus. The thing that interests me most is your conclusion that you hope things would have ended up the same, whichever path you took. In fact, a very similar theme to the movie Sliding Doors or the Frasier episode on the same theme.

    I prefer to think that very different things would have happened if I had made different choices. Scary, yes – empowering, definitely. If I feel that things would have ended the same regardless, there is a sense of inevitability and fate and a feeling that my choices are meaningless. Although I definitely know what you mean that you want things to end the same because you need your children to stay in the picture regardless.

    Much food for thought.

    Thanks, Rosemary.

    • April 26, 2011 11:40 am

      If I went ‘back in time’ and didn’t know about my children, my husband, my career choices that worked out, etc. then “perhaps” I’d want things to turn out differently. Who knows – I might end up as a best selling author with a mansion in Hawaii (or a recluse with 42 cats in the mountains of British Columbia)! It’s always fun to dream.

      Margo

  43. April 25, 2011 11:36 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. It really made me think. I used to read the Choose your own adventure books when I was in elementary school… especially the Goosebumps ones. I play the what if game myself quite a bit. I just graduated from university (journalism at Ryerson) and I work at a big daily newspaper in the city. I won’t say which one. I actually decided to give it up and move to Europe this summer because I’m afraid that some day I’ll regret not leaving and having a bit of adventure in my life.

    • April 26, 2011 11:42 am

      So you ended up with MY dream (40 years later!) Good for you! I wanted to work in ‘The City’ for a while, then travel the world (I haven’t done much travelling but do have plans to go to Europe when my husband retires). Embrace the adventure, enjoy it, and look back on it later in your life with no regrets! All the best,

      Margo

  44. Hanna Maze permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:27 pm

    This is very true……love it!!! Check out my blog some similar posts on it!

  45. April 25, 2011 11:12 pm

    This was great, reminded me of when I was a young child (despite the fact it’s something I keep on trying to forget). Hmmm…

    It took me back to a time when it was easier not to care about whether or not the decisions we made were right or wrong. What really mattered was making a decision that prolonged the story…

    This process gets really does get daunting as we get older, especially considering how we can’t just flip forward to see if a decision we’ve made turns out correct or not. The enigmatic beauty that is life…

    I suppose a part of growing up means we have to put the book aside and realise the choices that are offered aren’t necessarily the choices we always need to take.

    Okay, stopped myself from a ramble…

    Keep up the good work 🙂
    Thanks for sharing

    • April 26, 2011 11:45 am

      You are right about decisions when we are young seeming less ‘important’ than when we are older (although you probably couldn’t convince the average teenager/twenty-something of that – they think the world will end if they don’t choose the right cell phone!) Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Margo

  46. April 25, 2011 10:49 pm

    Choices come and choices go. The amazing thing about life is that we all have the ability to reinvent ourselves. The worst any of us can do is to feel like victims in our own lives. The real power is in knowing that we create our own reality. I am far more aware of this at age 63 than I was at age 33.

    • April 26, 2011 11:48 am

      Insight into what’s important definately improves with age! At 33 I wasn’t thinking about saving for retirement – now I wish I had. We do create our own lives – no one else does it for us!

      Margo

  47. April 25, 2011 10:06 pm

    Very nice.

  48. April 25, 2011 10:02 pm

    Really? I never heard of that series of books. It seems very interesting.I really agree with life is all about choices.Thank you for your sharing!

    • April 26, 2011 12:19 pm

      The books were big back in the 1980s; I believe they are still available. I’m glad you liked my post.

      Margo

  49. April 25, 2011 9:56 pm

    Interesting. I love those books, although my son does not seem to be interested in them.

    When I think about my life, it seems that I do not really make any choices – things just circumstantially happen to me. I did not choose the university I went to – that was the one in my home town; I did not choose my job either – there was only that one available.

    I guess, people play “what if” game because we know how the choice we make (or sth. that happened to us) played out, so we compare out reality to an imaginary scenario that seems to be better, more interesting, more successful and so on.

    Plus, we tend to overestimate our influence on other people as well. What if I found the right words back then – well, I do not think it would change anything anyways. It would be presumptuous of me to think that my words can change a person’s life.

    I really loved your post, subscribing 🙂

    • April 26, 2011 11:54 am

      Welcome! I don’t think it’s presumptuous to assume words can change a life. I taught college for 30 years and I still hear from students who tell me that things I said in the classroom had great impact on them. One girl got her ‘dream job’ because she quoted me in her interview – and it turned out that the person conducting the interview was another student of mine from several years earlier! Words are powerful (which is one of the reasons I write!) I hope you enjoy the rest of my blog (I post weekly!)

      Margo

  50. April 25, 2011 9:52 pm

    Hi Margo,
    Great post on CYOA. Loved to read it and please keep it coming. This concept is dear to my heart and something I work on with my clients. We create our adventure, ou life every day.
    Have a great day
    Wayne

    • April 26, 2011 11:54 am

      Thanks for the nice words, Wayne. I’m glad you liked the post.

      Margo

  51. Earthling27 permalink
    April 25, 2011 9:38 pm

    Nice read and thought provoking. Destiny, fate, luck etc we always think about what ifs. I rather not think about ‘what ifs’ but make decisions from now on, that make me feel strong about them and not regret later. Even it’s a bad decision, it’s cool ’cause i choose it. There’s nothing more empowering and satisfying than this. Sometimes circumstances don’t give you the options to weigh in and you end up choosing the one that you didn’t wanted…is this predetermined to steer you in the direction you’re destined for ? If this is predetermined why you always yearn for the other choice ? why not be happy with it. Why we make things more difficult than they really are. All of the goods things in life are either free or almost free but we are always thinking about what ifs and forget to stop and appreciate what we have. Emotions they’re genuine and we cannot stop thinking about what ifs ’cause that’s what keeps us going and this is the core that’s we are made of. What if ???? ONLY IF I CAN STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT IFS…

    • April 26, 2011 11:58 am

      I don’t think there are any real ‘bad’ decisions – just ill-informed ones, perhaps. And wouldn’t life be dull if we didn’t wonder ‘What if?’

      Margo

  52. April 25, 2011 9:04 pm

    Great job on making FP! When I was in elementary school, I started a Choose Your Own Adventure club – we used to take turns reading a ‘thread’ within one book, and then switched off so that one of our pals could read one of the other threads. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

    • April 26, 2011 12:00 pm

      I’m pleased that my post triggered a good memory. Being Freshly Pressed has certainly been an enlightening experience.

      Margo

  53. April 25, 2011 8:44 pm

    Nice thoughts. Lovely writing. Wonderful story! This makes me become even more aware of the choices I make.

  54. anonnickus permalink
    April 25, 2011 8:29 pm

    I am going to reread this post tomorrow from bottom to top. I will probably still like it. Good job.

  55. April 25, 2011 7:53 pm

    I loved those books as a kid! The best part was that you could use them for book reports because they were 144 page books, but report on just one of the adventures (about 10-15 pages long). Those books really stoked my procrastinating nature!

    What you term fate, I term providence. It’s so easy to think that we’re making actual choices in the moment. In hindsight, though, one choice, one path is what makes us who we are. And we realize that there really wasn’t a choice in the first place.

    • April 26, 2011 12:07 pm

      My son’s teacher wouldn’t let them do their book reports of CYOA for the very reason you mention! Destiny, fate, providence are all similar terms for the same thing and all (I believe) all at work all the time in our lives.

      Margo

  56. srqpix permalink
    April 25, 2011 7:47 pm

    Participation in “What if” seems counter productive to participation in ” What is”

    • April 26, 2011 12:07 pm

      True – but ‘what is’ may be influenced by thoughts of ‘what if’.

      Margo

  57. Casey Ferguson permalink
    April 25, 2011 7:43 pm

    Yeah, I’m 25 now, but I used to love reading those stories. I would read every option, every time. I couldn’t stand not knowing what could have happened, and sometimes I cheated and changed my answer once I saw what I felt was a better outcome. Is it any surprise that I over-analyze everything nowadays?

    A few years back a movie came out starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and about 1/4 into the movie she is running to catch a subway train, and the frames split, the rest of the movie taking you through what happens if she catches or misses the train. In one she comes home early to find her jerk boyfriend cheating on her and she leave him, immediately entering what looks like a better life. In the other she stays with him, for the time being going on with circumstances that are less ideal.

    I remember watching the movie thinking it was unfair. I think one of the virtues of movies (those without alternate endings), like life, is that the end is the end. Good or bad, it is the result of choices made. And even when a movie ends and the protagonist dies, or the bad guy gets away, and you hate the fact that the resolution you wanted never came, you can still appreciate the fact that the ending was real.

    • April 26, 2011 12:10 pm

      I’ve never seen the movie you mention here, but there have been several TV shows and other movies with similar set ups. And I have to admit that I get really annoyed if a movie (or a book) doesn’t end the way I want it to (“they all lived happily ever after”) but you are right – if its real, then its authentic. Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  58. April 25, 2011 7:40 pm

    I always cheated on those books. Every time I got to a crossroads, I bookmarked it, then followed every possible path. As you can imagine, reading one book took quite a while.
    Congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

    • April 26, 2011 12:11 pm

      I have to admit to occasionally ‘cheating’ in books myself and sneaking a peak at the last chapter to see if its going to turn out the way I expect (especially the ‘whodunits’). I wonder why no one writes ‘adult’ CYOA?

      Margo

  59. 48colorrainbow permalink
    April 25, 2011 7:15 pm

    Over the past couple of months, I have been playing the “what if” game quite a bit in my head. I’m starting to wish I could do my last year, or perhaps even my last two years, of high school over.

    • April 26, 2011 12:13 pm

      Education is a life long process. You can always take adult ed courses, or go to College as a mature student (depending where you live), or sigh up for online courses if you want to upgrade your knowledge and skills (or even just improve your marks so you can pursue a post secondary education). Find something you really WANT to know about and go for it. Good Luck!

      Margo

  60. April 25, 2011 7:01 pm

    I found this idea very thought provoking…thanks for sharing. I wonder if we would be where we are no matter what, or if life itself would be changed. . . My husband and I were just talking about this idea last night. He is an Engineer and he was telling me there is something to do with the Boysen Particle that might be able to allow you to go back in time and send messages to yourself, and I was thinking what I would tell my past self to change, and then thought that it would change my whole current life that I am happy with now, no matter what I wish to change would then change the whole chain of events…including then my husband and children, so no I wouldn’t change ANYTHING! Interesting, right??? Evie

    • April 26, 2011 12:15 pm

      Thinking about ‘time travel’ (whether physically or just through messaging) always makes my head hurt – so many ‘what ifs’ are involved and so many possibly changes that could take place! What would we tell ourselves if we could send messages back and forth, and how would it change who/what we are? Scary thoughts and I bet someday it will be possible. Thanks for sharing.

      Margo

  61. April 25, 2011 7:00 pm

    The first CYOA books I read were Goosebumps spin-offs. It took a really long time–and was very disappointing–to realize Choose Your Own Adventures don’t generally end with you dying.

    Thanks for the post, it was very sweet and interesting, and definitely the best one I’ve read all week =)

    • April 26, 2011 12:16 pm

      There’s lots of adventuring to be done before you die – enjoy every bit of it. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for your comment!

      Margo

  62. April 25, 2011 6:41 pm

    Wise words… Congratulations on being pressed 🙂

  63. April 25, 2011 6:37 pm

    I really love the idea of not only thinking” what if”, but continuing with that idea and creatively carrying it through in my mind to see where it winds up. What fun. Thanks for an inviting and refreshing take on dealing with such a popular mind game. … Just played it and basically got back to exactly where I am, except with a couple more degrees under my belt.

    • April 25, 2011 6:42 pm

      It can certainly be fun to work your way through decisions and see where they lead. Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Margo

  64. Steve permalink
    April 25, 2011 6:37 pm

    It’s been one wild ride hasn’t it?

  65. April 25, 2011 6:28 pm

    That was a wonderful post I enjoyed it from start to finish, it’s so true I can’t imagine anyone hasn’t played the what if game. I know I do it alot especially when life hands you curve balls or changes. I also agree with the serendipity aspect of life, with those nearest and dearest I often think “what if I’d never met you”. Congrats on being pressed!

    • April 25, 2011 6:30 pm

      Thank you! I think we all have moments when we wonder if making different decisions would have led to different outcomes, but I believe in the end we all end up exactly where we are supposed to be!

      Margo

  66. April 25, 2011 6:21 pm

    I never play “What if”. I don’t regret any decisions I’ve made. I know that if I had known then what I know now, I would have done things differently, but that can’t be done, so I just go with whatever was. I have always tried to do the right thing. Now I’m working more on doing whatever I want to do, just because I want to. I don’t have much money, but then the things I want to do don’t cost much, so that works out. Keep writing, I’m doing the same, it helps me think about things, which is good.

    • April 25, 2011 6:31 pm

      Doing what ‘comes naturally’ is a good approach! Good luck with your writing.

      Margo

  67. keen101 permalink
    April 25, 2011 5:56 pm

    Nice. I always loved those stories when i was a kid. I like how you tied in the last sentence with your title.

    I don’t believe in fate myself, and believe we are free to make our own choices. but i don’t believe the universe is completely random either. It’s not the same as fate, but i don’t how to describe it.

    Anyway, nice story. 🙂

    • April 25, 2011 6:35 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure how much of what we do is truly ‘random’ and how much is pre-determined, but I do believe we end up exactly where we’re supposed to be in the end (because, after all, it IS where we are!)

      Margo

  68. April 25, 2011 5:44 pm

    I believe that “what if” is one of the questions we ask ourselves most of the time. 🙂

    I honestly can’t even think about “what if I had done this”, because I can’t imagine my past in a different way. I took weird and quite unexpected paths but, after all, I’m not even close to regret. So, my constant “what if” is always about future: being a designer, a writer, a politician, or anything else? Staying in my hometown or just leaving my country?

    Definitely, our life would be easier if it was just some wrote adventure, and if we weren’t aware of half of the things we know… But it’s our life, our chance, and we must take it and do the best we can.

    I’ve truly liked your post. It made me think about hundreds of things!

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    • April 25, 2011 6:37 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post. There are so many options facing each and every one of us – it’s sometimes difficult to know if you’re making the right choices. But I believe that ultimately we achieve what we are meant to achieve (albeit sometimes in a round-about way!)

      Margo

      • April 26, 2011 2:04 pm

        I couldn’t agree more with you about achieving what we’re truly meant to achieve 🙂 Still, I can’t avoid feeling confuse about a few items of my life. I guess I’ll improve that, as time goes by 😉

  69. April 25, 2011 5:21 pm

    I loved the CYOA books, Can you still buy them now? I think you make some correct statements in this post, life is about choices, the life is your life/our lives and we have to make the best choices for ourselves otherwise resentment will set in, i do remember that when i met my partner (now of 9 years together although not married) i did think was it the right thing to do, and i know now it was because no matter how highly strung and tantrum’ed i get on some occasions or doing whatever i want to do he puts up with it because he loves me, he loves our children and he wouldnt have it any other way, and ive recently invited him to do some blogging because in the past 2 years he has managed to do what he has always wanted to do, write!

    • April 25, 2011 6:39 pm

      The CYOA books are still available and they even have their own website (with DVDs and computer games, as well). The ‘best’ choices don’t always look like they’re ‘best’ when we make them, but turn out to be the ones we were supposed to make! Glad you’ve found your way, and that your partner is doing what he loves!

      Margo

  70. April 25, 2011 5:02 pm

    My mother, who is 64 does this all the time. I myself have done this too, and see that the choices I make were the best ones I could do. I also feel that if I don’t follow my gut to do things when I feel I should I all ways regret them. It is great to see life as a choose your own adventure – I used to love those books, and of course I would read all the different choices and see what all the possibilities were. I also do believe in fate, and know in my heart the people I’ve met and have had come into my life were put there for a reason. Thank you for such a heartfelt and entertaining look at life 101

    • April 25, 2011 6:45 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I do believe that our lives have a certain element of ‘fate’ to them and ultimately we arrive at a pre-determined destination.

      Margo

  71. April 25, 2011 4:39 pm

    Cool idea for books…. but “what ifs” in life are quite pointless… I can definitely, now in hindsight, pinpoint a few moments in my life, if I had made different choices, things may have turned out differently (not necessarily better- but different), but…. at the time you can only do what you feel is right at the time….

    • April 25, 2011 6:46 pm

      That’s the great thing about life – you just keep on moving forward!

      Margo

  72. April 25, 2011 4:32 pm

    AWESOME!! I’ve been drowning in ‘what ifs’ lately and finally went ahead and ‘followed Amy into the forest’ – i sold everything I owned (not much, but it was it was everything to me) and am going to travel the world and work with those in need… at least that’s the “plan”. 😉 Like you, I believe in ‘fate’- and wouldn’t trade the moments that have led me to where I am now – however, I also don’t want to look back later and say “there I was with the opportunity to follow my life’s dream and I chickened out… WHAT IF……” so thanks to your post, I’m going to play along. I’ll map out some terrifically brave choices/selections for my journey, with some creative & exciting ups and downs… and ultimately a very happy landing in the ‘downward side of life’… cheers!

    • April 25, 2011 6:48 pm

      Good for you! Congratulations! What’s the worst thing that can happen? You end up coming home and trying something else. I don’t believe in ‘failure’ – if things don’t work out (some decision turns out not to be what you thought it would be) you just get a ‘do over’ and can try something different next time! Have a wonderful adventure!

      Margo

  73. April 25, 2011 4:15 pm

    I will never regret our move to USA from USSR 20 years ago!!! What if would have been devastating if decided to stay back there.

    • April 25, 2011 6:49 pm

      Certainly a decision with major implications! But the right one, to be sure (my husband came to Canada from Hungary in the sixties … his whole family would likely have been killed if they’d stayed there). Some decisions are the ONLY decisions that can be made.

      Margo

  74. April 25, 2011 4:08 pm

    This is wonderful. As someone who is approaching 25, I’m focused on putting myself on the best possible path in every respect – career, education, family, friends, love. I like to think I won’t have “missed” opportunities to look back on, just intersections at which I consciously chose one direction over another – hopefully for the best! Great post and wonderful food for thought.

    • April 25, 2011 6:51 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. You have a whole lot of livin’ to do yet (I recall being 25 and it was a WONDERFUL age!) Life will throw you curves, to be sure – just learn to go with what you believe is the ‘best’ choice and you wll never, ever be ‘wrong’. Good luck on your life’s adventure!

      Margo

  75. April 25, 2011 4:07 pm

    Screw it…..Just open the throttle and don’t be afraid to try something new. Age, I think, is really quite meaningless.

    • April 25, 2011 6:51 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly! (Just try to stay out of the speed traps!) Thanks for the comment.

      Margo

  76. April 25, 2011 3:53 pm

    I just started a “Choose Your Own Adventure” experiment Saturday, then today I see this on Freshly Pressed. Not exactly the same idea, but crazy nonetheless!

    Great post. Really enjoyed it.

    • April 25, 2011 6:52 pm

      … which just goes to show that there are no ‘coincidences’ – just serendipity in action! Good luck with your CYOA experiement. Glad you liked the post.

      Margo

  77. April 25, 2011 3:34 pm

    A very interesting read, and concept. I usually find myself pondering similar things.

    P.S those CYOA books were awesome!

    • April 25, 2011 6:53 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post and that it got you thinking.

      Margo

  78. April 25, 2011 2:46 pm

    Very thought provoking. I’ve been thinking about this alot lately myself.

    • April 25, 2011 2:50 pm

      I think everyone asks themselves the ‘what if?’ question at different times in their life. Its good to reflect (and appreciate where you are). Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  79. April 25, 2011 2:30 pm

    Hi Margo –

    I used to play the “what if” game all the time and found it was moving backwards. The “what if” game is living in yesterday, and that’s no place to live. It prevents us from living in the “now” and hinders our progress for a better tomorrow. Thank you for the blog as I like it very much. Have a nice Monday. 🙂

    • April 25, 2011 2:52 pm

      Far too many people live in the past – which can’t be changed. Far better to live now and plan for what’s ahead. Glad you like the blog.

      Margo

  80. April 25, 2011 2:27 pm

    Interesting reading. In the 1980s I worked for a book publisher that produced a dozen or so such books. They were extremely popular here in Sweden for a few years. Anyhow, looking back at life from my current middle-aged position I can see several life-determining choices along the way. Generally I chose the paths less travelled and I have rarely regretted these decisions even if it every now and then has been tough going: studying abroad, learning unusual things, working for odd employers, serving in Afghanistan, marrying late, etc. The conventional middle-class life has held no appeal to me, seeing what limited experiences my father and uncles have had. There will be true tall tales to tell the grand-children when I am retired: the leopard at the privy in India, the Roman camps at Masada, the car bombs exploding in Kabul, walking in the ruins of Knossos, etc.

    • April 25, 2011 2:55 pm

      Wow! You’ve lived your very own adventure story. Have you ever considered writing it all down and publishing it? Even if you self-publish for your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, you’d be leaving them a fabulous legacy (I have a single poem my grandfather wrote when he was 78 – he died when I was three and a half and its the only thing I have of him; I often wonder what stories he would have told me if he’d lived longer). Thanks for the comment.

      • April 25, 2011 3:16 pm

        I have been writing small pieces about my adventures over the years, both as a science journalist and as a fiction writer, e.g. about when we adopted our first child from a faraway land or what it was like to work in Kabul. A few have been published in specialized magazines.

  81. theveryhungrybookworm permalink
    April 25, 2011 2:19 pm

    I loved the CYOA books as a child and I often think about my life in those terms. It actually helps me make decisions because I visualize how each way might go. Anytime I am regretting a decision, I try to look back and see what good things I have that I wouldn’t if I hadn’t made that decision. Different college would have meant that I never met my awesome boyfriend, etc. Congrats on FP!

    • April 25, 2011 2:57 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I think we all ‘regret’ at least some of decisions we make, but good does come from them all (even if it takes a while!)

      Margo

  82. April 25, 2011 2:06 pm

    I have never actually read such a book, But dreaming about how my life would be if some things were different is almost an obsessive compulsion with me. It was fabulous to read about something I do so much, written down in such an engrossing manner.

    As for decisions , well I think dreaming is great fun, but choices are not randomly selected.

    We always make the best we can. So even if we went back to those times (without any future knowledge) we would probably make the same decision again as it would always seem like the strongest choice.

    • April 25, 2011 2:58 pm

      I believe we are ‘meant’ to make the decisions we make (after all, we made them, didn’t we?) And oftentimes, what we dream is what we do. Keep dreaming!

      Margo

  83. April 25, 2011 1:59 pm

    Great post. Reminds me of an old Chinese fable where the moral is basically, good results can happen from things that seem bad, and vice versa. In the story, a man gets a new horse, and is ecstatic, until his son breaks his leg riding that horse. But then, because of the broken leg, his son is passed over during the military draft, possibly saving his life. And so on and so forth. We never know where our choices will take us, but yes, it is fun to play “What If?”

    • April 25, 2011 3:01 pm

      I hadn’t heard that one, but there are lots of stories about things happening to people that seemed ‘bad’ at the time but turned out to be ‘good’ in the end (even if they weren’t seen that way at the time). Thanks for your comment.

      Margo

  84. April 25, 2011 1:17 pm

    Wow, I totally remember those CYOA books and loved them. 🙂 I have always thought of life being kind of like a book and I like how you made it a CYOA book because you do have a choice in what you are going to do. I like your positive attitude about where things are going and I agree, things will happen and no matter what choice you pick, it will be your favorable ending.

    • April 25, 2011 3:03 pm

      I’m sometimes surprised when people blame ‘other people’ for their own ‘bad’ choices. We each make our own choices (and if you make a decision because someone told you what to do, it is still YOUR choice). Life turns out the way it is supposed to turn out (positively). Thanks for writing.

      Margo

  85. April 25, 2011 1:08 pm

    Great Post. Yes, life is all about making choices, I agree.

  86. April 25, 2011 1:03 pm

    Such an interesting idea – I can see it as a board game for life coaches! Of course it is easy to look back and forget the actual feelings and thoughts we had at the time we made those decisions rather than with the wisdom we have now. Still I think this whole idea reminds us that there are always choices in life – no matter what is thrown up for us and that is very uplifting. Great post and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    • April 25, 2011 3:06 pm

      What a great idea. If you could design a game based on the concept, I bet you could make millions (sort of like ‘Snakes and Ladders’ of life)!!!! And you are right – its all a throw of the dice and we move forward based on what we throw. Thanks for your comments.

      Margo

  87. April 25, 2011 1:02 pm

    What a creative and though provoking post! I have often thought about the fact that many of the important events in my life seemed to come about by “accident”, and that some years of my life have had more “accidents” than other years. I wonder what this means.

    • April 25, 2011 3:08 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. Personally, I don’t think there are any ‘accidents’. I believe we are all on the path we’re meant to be on and we discover what we’re supposed to when we’re supposed to discover it. I saw a little ‘exercise’ in a magazine once suggesting you write down all the ‘defining moments’ in your life and what happened (good/bad) as a result of the choices you made at the time. Very enlightening exercise! Margo

  88. April 25, 2011 12:33 pm

    I’m only seventeen years old. I have my whole life ahead of me and many choices to makes. Reading this was relieving in so many ways… Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • April 25, 2011 3:13 pm

      Oh, to be 17 again. I thought I knew it all back then! As you go through life, appreciate the little things, be awed by the big things, and don’t second-guess yourself. Whatever choices you make – no matter how they might look in the short term – will turn out to be the right ones in the long run. You’re setting out on a great adventure – enjoy it (you’ll be on ‘the other side of 55’ before you know it!)

      Margo

  89. April 25, 2011 12:10 pm

    Excellent post. I look back in amazement that I met my husband by taking a job that I hated. Now because of that past job, I have two beautiful kids. It’s exciting and scary how one seeminly minor choice can impact your life in a major way down the road.

    • April 25, 2011 12:14 pm

      I don’t think any choice we make is ‘minor’ – they all have major implications (even if we don’t recognize it at the time). I also took a job I didn’t want – but needed at the time – that led me to meet my husband. I can’t imagine where I would be if I’d turned it down (scary, scary thought). Life is full of opportunities – we just have to pay attention to them! Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

    • April 25, 2011 2:34 pm

      Hello. I like your response. All our choices, regardless of how big or small, have a response or outcome. So glad yours is a forever one and you’re happy with that result. An example of a simple choice could be just going to the store and buying bread tonight, instead of picking it up tomorrow. (i.e.) You could stumble upon an old amigo whom you’ve thought about often but just never picked up the phone and dialed her. Amazing, and so many examples we can come up with. Great! Have a nice Monday. 🙂

      • April 25, 2011 2:51 pm

        I agree! Sometimes I’m completely gobsmacked by the ‘coincidences’ that turn out to have major implications. You just never know what life is going to hand you. Thanks for your comment.

        Margo

  90. April 25, 2011 12:01 pm

    I remember those CYOA books. What a creative way to look at the roads traveled (and not). Nicely done.

    • April 25, 2011 12:05 pm

      I always liked the idea of following the ‘road less travelled’ … sometimes we take the ‘safe’ road when we really should be taking the ‘detour’. Either way, the path(s) we choose for our life’s adventure will lead us to where we are supposed to be.

      Margo

  91. edebock permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:57 am

    Wow! I really enjoyed this. Being on the other side of 55, I can identify. My life certainly took some unexpected turns along the way but I agree with your final conclusion. I’m exactly where I’m meant to be right now and all those experiences along the way are what brought me to this point.

    • April 25, 2011 12:01 pm

      We are the sum of our decisions – and when you get to ‘our age’ (which isn’t all that bad, after all), there sure are a lot of them in the equation. But no matter way you ‘crunch’ the numbers, they all add up to the life we were meant to live. Thanks for your thoughts!

      Margo

  92. beckyspringer permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:52 am

    I loved the CYOA books when i was little :). Great post – it really makes you think!!

    • April 25, 2011 12:05 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Thanksk for commenting.

      Margo

  93. April 25, 2011 11:51 am

    FABULOUS!

  94. waitingforastart permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:50 am

    I do believe you are right about ending up at the place we are supposed to be no matter what paths we choose. I strongly considered doing psychology degree out when I finished school, but knew I won’t pass the science entrance exam that was required for it. So, I made other choices which lead to moving abroad and I forgot all about uni for a while. But you can’t really escape something that really matters to you. Sooner or later the nagging feeling inside will push you in the right direction. 12 years late, but I am doing the degree I wanted.

    • April 25, 2011 12:08 pm

      I’m surprised at how many people don’t follow their initial ‘dreams’ and then end up there anyway, years later. Perhaps we are born with our life goals already ‘programmed’ inside us and we just have to figure out how to get to there from here (or wherever we find ourselves). Good luck with the degree and your continuing adventure!

      Margo

  95. April 25, 2011 11:47 am

    I really enjoyed reading this – what an excellent idea and exercise to reflect upon your life, and to deliberate some choices we’ve all made along our path. While I can only speculate, I tend to believe most of us would arrive pretty much at the same ending as well, despite all the different twists and turns we might have taken just for fun. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I for one am grateful they’ve chosen this post.

    • April 25, 2011 12:12 pm

      Thank you very much for your comments. It’s certainly great to be Freshly Pressed and to have so many people reading and commenting on my blog. I do believe that we’re meant to reach certain points at certain times in our lives (and meet certain people, take certain jobs, etc.) Some of the best things that have happened in my life have been through making what – at the time – I would have sworn were ‘mistakes’. But I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be (and the adventure isn’t over yet)!

      Margo

  96. lisawrites4life permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:38 am

    Thank you for that truly enjoyable posting, Margo.

    I too am take a middle-of-the-road view on fate vs. choice. I’ve made what I consider many wrong turns and even worked from reverse at times. Nonetheless, I feel that I am exactly where I should be in life. Perhaps that’s a bit of wishful thinking on my part, or perhaps it is so; time will tell.

    I certainly enjoyed seeing this through the lense of the CYOA books as I remember them well 🙂

    • April 25, 2011 11:50 am

      If we don’t think ‘wishfully’, we don’t achieve our goals. Fate provides us with choices but I honestly believe we ALWAYS make the ‘right’ ones (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, or in hindsight). No one will ever write a book about my life but I do know my adventure will end with ‘and she lived happily ever after’ – so will yours!

      Margo

  97. April 25, 2011 11:38 am

    Interesting! I never thought of my life like that. We have one thing in comman though – I love those books.

    • April 25, 2011 11:52 am

      Sometimes we spend so much time ‘living’ our lives, we don’t think of them as stories (‘adventures’). I like to try out different persepctives once in a while! Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  98. April 25, 2011 11:18 am

    Margo, I love your writing style, and this premise! I often think of how many tiny decision points there have been, which together. have led me to this moment, and this life. Many of my decisions I would have changed given a little insight into my future, but fortunately I didn’t have that insight and didn’t prevent myself arriving right here – right now.

    Congratulations on FP. Enjoy the ride.

    • April 25, 2011 11:58 am

      Thanks. I was THRILLED (and surprised) to find myself Freshly Pressed this morning! I appreciate your comment about having insight into your future … ‘if only I’d known’ is right up there with ‘what if?’ when it comes to examining our lives and the decisions we made to get where we are (something about hindsight being 20/20?!?!?) I do believe we always end up where we are supposed to be, so maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference even if you HAD known what was coming. Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  99. April 25, 2011 11:02 am

    Really interesting, ty 🙂

    • April 25, 2011 11:15 am

      Thanks. I try to get people to think about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness – no matter the situation they find themselves in.

      Margo

  100. April 25, 2011 10:46 am

    As someone who might be watching the twilight hours of a 5 and a half year relationship slide by, to only be subsequently faced with the prospect of finding some stranger to live with on craigs-list, rather than the love of my life, and jockeyed into spending the money involved in the move at one of the worst financial times of my life — this article spoke to my soul.
    Here goes another great adventure 🙂

    • April 25, 2011 11:16 am

      When one door closes, another one opens. I firmly believe that. Keep moving forward – your adventure awaits!

      Margo

  101. April 25, 2011 10:41 am

    Interesting post, Margo, and thanks for sharing. Everyone does go through the whole CYOA in real life

    • April 25, 2011 11:18 am

      What would life be like without adventures, eh? Thanks for commenting.

      Margo

  102. April 25, 2011 10:36 am

    Margo,
    I followed a similar path, ie: secretarial training but continued slogging through an undergraduate degree which took me 10 years to complete. When I considered grad school, I decided for the first time in my life to be a full-time student.
    At 50 years of age, I got myself an assistantship with a college with a study abroad program in Florence, Italy. I travelled there 6 times in 4 years, even staying to study abroad myself in Urbino, Italy. So, for those who are playing “What If,” I suggest switching it to, “Why Not Now?”

    • April 25, 2011 11:24 am

      Wow, what a great example of CYOA at work! I definately agree that the driving question we all should ask is not “What If?” but “Why Not?” Too many people live with regrets instead of putting the past behind them and moving forward. Glad you made the right choices (and 50 isn’t too old to start over)! Congratulations!

      Margo

  103. Alive aLwaYs permalink
    April 25, 2011 10:25 am

    Your post is breathtaking, true expressionism.
    Life is definitely all about decisions on circumstantial choices, and we make them because we want to, whether immaturely or with absolute certainty. But to this day, I do not believe I will think of changing them, if I am happy today.

    • April 25, 2011 11:28 am

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m a true believer in ‘serendipity’ – all things happen for a reason. Life is about making the best choices possible at the time (even if we later wonder if they were the ‘right’ ones). Hopefully we eventually reach a point in our life where we are content, joyful and/or happy and joyful, and we (finally) realize that it was all worthwhile.

      Margo

  104. April 25, 2011 10:25 am

    I do wonder about this, after making several life-changing decisions. I left Toronto in 1982 to spent eight months on a fellowship in Paris and desperately wanted to stay, but was afraid to try. I did come home and get a dream job, at the Globe.

    Then I left Toronto (hometown) at 30 to move to Montreal, met and later married an American. I am still in NY 22 years later, now the proud author of two non-fiction books published by major houses, and with two NYC newspapers on my resume. I do often wonder “what if” I had never left Toronto and my old, dear friends I come back to visit 2-4 times every year. I know these books simply would not exist, and they are dear to me.

    I think as long as your life today is largely happy, these backward glances are interesting. We never know how things might have gone, despite our fantasies or regrets.

    • April 25, 2011 11:33 am

      Congratulations on having you books published (I’m still working on getting my first one into print). Our life experiences definately influence our writing and our desires fuel our choices. And I do believe that we end up in the place where we were meant to be. Please pass along your book titles – writers need to support other writers.

      Margo

  105. April 25, 2011 10:12 am

    I think we all have gone through this stage in life, the what ifs. I think when we become the most satisfied and content with life is when we realize that we can’t change the past and everything happens for a reason. Enjoyed your post.

    • April 25, 2011 11:35 am

      I agree 100% – things happen because they are supposed to happen and we can ‘what if?’ our lives away and it won’t change a thing (although it’s sometimes fun to do it all the same). Thanks for commenting!

      Margo

  106. April 25, 2011 10:11 am

    What a great post! I think we all allow our minds to play the “what if” games from time to time. I am glad you are on the right page 🙂

    • April 25, 2011 11:40 am

      Thank you! Looking back is an interesting ‘hobby’ (as long as it doesn’t become an obsession); looking forward (and/or just enjoying what ‘is’) is much more productive!

      Margo

  107. April 25, 2011 10:09 am

    So true … and so tempting to play the game!

    I’ve been divorced for three years (it’s been an absolutely crazy story, and actually inspired my blog…), and throughout the craziness, I keep asking myself “What if?” But the end result of all those questions: If I hadn’t done exactly what I did, perhaps I wouldn’t have my two amazing children. And I can’t bear that thought…

    So as it happened is exactly as it should have happened. End of story!

    Great post! Thanks for making us all think…

    🙂

    • April 25, 2011 11:43 am

      My children are two of the main reasons I try not to dwell on the ‘what ifs’ (my [second] husband and my newly established writing career being two more). I suppose if things had turned out ‘differently’ I wouldn’t know about them – but knowing what I do, I wouldn’t change a thing. The choices we make bring us to the point in our lifes where we are supposed to be (how do we know that? because it is where we are!) Thanks for your comments and all the best in your continuing adventure!

      Margo

  108. Colleen permalink
    March 28, 2011 8:30 am

    God Margo, I loved these books as a kid, just devoured them. My problem was I that I was too predictable! I often ended up with the same path again and again…too bad I didn’t heed the lesson. 😉

    • March 28, 2011 9:53 am

      Colleen,

      I really do wonder ‘if’ given the chance to actually go back and take different paths in my life, where I would change my choices. Maybe if I didn’t know what I know now about my life (the stuff I like and what led me here) I could do it, but I like where I am so I probably would do the same as you … take the same path over and over again.

      Margo

  109. Cathy Hendrix permalink
    March 27, 2011 10:34 pm

    I have to agree with you for the most part, Margo, but life can also throw you curves – the death of a boyfriend, the guy you’re madly in love with who breaks off with you, the death of a husband, a miscarriage. Lots of things shape our lives. Hopefully we are stronger for them, but they irrevocably change the course of our lives, sometimes in an instant.

    • March 28, 2011 9:50 am

      Cathy,

      Those ‘curves’ are tough but they also force us to look at things in a new light … and hopefully make us stronger, more resilient, and more appreciative of what we have when things go ‘right’.

  110. April 25, 2011 6:33 pm

    I suppose the first step to writing a ‘real’ CYOA book about your life would be to set down every major decision you’ve made in your life and track the various options and outcomes. Of course, you’d have to ‘guess’ at what the outcomes might have been, but it could be fun! Good luck!

    Margo

  111. April 25, 2011 11:07 pm

    I guess I may be boring, but I have known since I was an adolescent what I would do with my life. My life has not been about the forks in the road, decisions, options, choices as it has been about the folks who kept me on my path. http://georgettesullins.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/serendipity-coincidences-or-lifes-small-miracles/
    Well written piece and congratulations on being FP’d.

  112. April 26, 2011 11:46 am

    You are one of the lucky ones – following your dreams and not getting ‘side tracked’. Congratulations. I’m glad you liked the post!

    Margo

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