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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, October 09, 2006

The What-If Game

In leiu of studying for my test tomorrow, I've been relaxing and daydreaming a bit. And playing the "what-if game." You know the one - it starts out as "What if such and such never happened." And then you ponder the road that would have led up to today's date, but with a very divergent path. You can pick any event in your life - in the near or far past, signficant or not so much, it can be a particular person that you might never have met or you can even pick a historical figure to have never existed. The what-if game is lots of fun, and can occupy a person for hours, either alone or in the company of others.

So, my what-if is usually in the form of "What if I had never gone to Israel nine years ago? What would my life be like today? Where would I be and what would I be doing?"

I can pretty safely say that the landscape of my life would be tremendously different. I can't say for sure, but I am fairly certain I wouldn't be living in New Jersey. Most of my high school classmates, along with my brothers, stayed in Alabama. A lot of the Jewish kids moved away, but most of them not too far - to Atlanta, maybe North Carolina or Texas. But looking at the odds, I would probably still be in the South.

I honestly don't know if I would be pursuing a Master's degree. It's possible that I would. If I hadn't gone to Israel, I would probably have completed my Bachelor's degree right away and worked in a non-profit organization, most likely the one I interned in while I was in college, but if not that one, probably something similar. Maybe after a few years of working, I would have decided to go back to school, I was always a good student, just kinda burnt out by the time I hit college. But my parents are into education, so they would certainly have encouraged me. Though, parental encouragement has usually been swept to the wayside and led me down the opposite path, so there's no telling what I would be doing these days if I still lived close to my family.

Relationships - this is the part that gets complicated. I grew up with a very strong Jewish identity, though mainly a cultural, rather than a religious, one. When I was growing up, my parents strongly encouraged me to marry a Jewish guy. But that emphasis has faded over the years, and now my parents say they just want my brothers and I to marry good people, Jewish or otherwise. If I had stayed in Alabama, the likelihood of my finding someone Jewish would have been slim. I have no idea whether I would actually be married now or not. If I was, I have a feeling he wouldn't be Jewish.

And then I get stuck. Because in the what if game I'm playing, say I go down the road where there I am, married to a non-jewish man, living in Alabama, working for a non-profit organization, possibly with a Master's degree. Would I have children? Would I be close with my family? Would I own a house? Who would my friends be? It's such an incredibly different reality from what I know, that I have a hard time even imagining it, and I have a decent imagination. But I think imagination works better when you're dealing with fantasy, rather than what could have been reality.

Nine years ago, I took a trip that changed my life and put me on a road, maybe the road less traveled. And it certainly has made all the difference. What "what if" games do you play?

10 Comments:

  • What if I didnt start my silly blog, just having fun. What if my on and off-line friends didnt egg me on to continue it, and speak my mind. What if your blog was just one of hundreds of blogs I randomly glance at once every few months.

    I wouldnt of made one of the closest friends I have in my life now, on or off-line..

    By Blogger Semgirl, at 10/9/06, 11:30 PM  

  • yes, what if i'd never started my blog? i wouldn't have made so many new friends. and i really don't know what i would have done instead.

    sometimes 'what if' games are fun but i don't play too often. I think i'm more of the mindset that whatever has happened is what's happened so we have to deal with that rather than things that may or may not have happened. I guess that could be because so many huge things have happened over the last few years that 'what if's' and 'what could have been' are a little depressing cos things went so differently. Not all bad of course, but not in any way i ever, ever expected. So, a fun game if it's light hearted! :)

    By Blogger ~ Sarah ~, at 10/10/06, 3:23 AM  

  • semgirl -
    I think that's the hardest part of my what-if game - that the people in my life would be completely different, and that's one of the most important components in my life, so it makes it quite difficult to imagine.

    Sarah -
    My what-if's, even if based on fairly negative experiences in my life, usually lead me to realize that I am better off the way things have happened.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 10/10/06, 8:21 AM  

  • what if i hadn't lost that 7th grade treasury election to that stupid jerk kelly ja*****s. GAH. wonderful post!

    By Blogger BagelUndertheCouch, at 10/10/06, 9:48 AM  

  • I think I've actually learned to stop "what if'ing" and have tried to see that what's happened to me is for the best -- that I've learned a lot and had cool experiences. Otherwise, I'd be awash with regrets and depression.

    By Anonymous debbie, at 10/10/06, 9:56 AM  

  • My what-iffing usually involves endless variations for present/future possibilities, that will probably unravel in a particular direction - but I like to pretend that something might go unexpectedly and then...

    I guess that's somewhat closer to fantasy, but usually my variations aren't completely outlandish (but that's me talking, so you might want to take that with a grain of salt), and are pretty close to real, actual possibilities.

    By Blogger Irina Tsukerman, at 10/10/06, 11:11 AM  

  • I don't really think about "what if". This is the place where G-d wants me to be right now, with these friends and this life situation; I have to make the most of my opportunities.

    By Blogger SaraK, at 10/10/06, 11:54 AM  

  • Bagel -
    LOL. Glad you enjoyed.

    Debbie -
    My "what-if" games aren't so much about wishing I had a different life, it's more about the possibilities, and imagining how radically different my life could be now. In general, I think the path that I took has been great and the only one I really want.

    Irina -
    You never know what might happen...

    SaraK -
    Like I said to Debbie, it's not about regrets, it's just a fascination with the alternate possible realities.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 10/11/06, 9:14 AM  

  • Never have played the "what if" game. I kind of feel like I would be tempting fate somehow. I can pretty much say for sure that I would be involved in the arts and living on the west coast in my alternate reality, but beyond that I would not want to venture a guess. Perhaps one day when I'm bored I will explore further...too much work to do for now, though...

    By Blogger MC Aryeh, at 10/11/06, 10:50 PM  

  • MCA -
    West Coast sounds nice to me, probably much warmer :)

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 10/12/06, 6:30 AM  

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