In a chapter in one of my favorite books on the planet, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed wrote a concerned reader who was struggling with whether or not to have children. Strayed encouraged her to consider all of the different potential futures she could choose to have in her life, to think deeply about what her life would look like with children and what it would look like without them. What would the cadence of her days look like? What would her retirement look like? How would she spend her free time? Strayed argued that, sure, the future is pretty unpredictable, but it still doesn’t hurt to think about it before making major decisions that affect it.
Even though I’m not quite thirty, I already feel like I’ve lived nine different lives. Right now, I am in the California chapter, but in the past, I lived through The Gambia chapter, the college chapter, the divorce chapter, the study abroad chapter. When I was in The Gambia chapter, I definitely saw my life lived pinging between The Gambia and the United States. I thought I would raise interracial, intercultural children with my then-boyfriend. I imagined what that life would look like. I felt so close to it that I could taste it.
For me, that future didn’t come to fruition and I am completely okay with that now. I still feel a bit nostalgic at times for what could’ve been, but I acknowledge that the way things turned out was for the best.
The ‘Motherhood around the World’ blogger featured a couple of weeks ago on Cup of Jo is basically living the life I had imagined, albeit on a different side of the African continent. She has a beautiful family and what looks like a beautiful life in Kenya. I reread her post this morning several times because I loved peering inside of the coulda, woulda, shoulda well every once in awhile. It’s nice to pull out that other life, imagine it from different angles, and then put it away.
Do you ever think about other ‘lives’ you could have lived?