Many people, as they approach the end of their days, look back over their lives with a mixture of regret and anger, regret that they so often selected the wrong turn, and anger that the wisdom to recognize the right turn often came too late.
"If only I had it all to do over again," they say.
Ever felt like that?
Ever thought about how different your life might have been?
Ever wished you had another shot at it?
You may be right. You may very well have taken a wrong turn somewhere.
One wrong turn--just one--may have changed what could have been, and perhaps should have been, a wonderful life into something very different.
On the other hand....
I think I can honestly claim that in the early years of adulthood, I took about as many "wrong" turns as anyone on this planet.
I turned down a full four-year scholarship because color blindness kept me from becoming the kind of scientist I wanted to be.
I turned down a commission and stayed an enlisted man because I hadn't liked the National Guard officers I served under during my first hitch.
I turned down a chance to go to Yale and study Mandarin Chinese because I wanted to work out of doors.
I opted for a dead-end assignment to Pakistan which shunted me off the promotion track and literally ensured that I would fall years behind my peers.
Those are just a few of the "wrong" turns I made, the ones that pop into my head whenever I think about it.
Yes, I'm going to say it. As dumb as it may sound, I wouldn't change any one of them. Nor would I change a lot of other things I've done either.
Because changing any one of them would change the most important thing that ever happened to me.
Had I taken that scholarship I would never have entered the service. Had I accepted that commission I would have been in the Army, not the Air Force. Had I gone to Yale and become a Chinese Language Specialist I would never have been assigned to Japan, where I chose that dead-end assignment to Pakistan.
And so I would not have been standing in a staff house in Karachi one day when Sam McNutt, another Air Force NCO, looked at me and said, "Hey, Tom, how'd you like to meet a couple of nice British girls?"
And, without that, I would never have met my beloved wife.
Wrong turns? I don't think so.
Well, what do you say? Do you still wish you had it all to do over again? Or is it possible that knowing the outcome you might just choose those same "wrong turns" again?