Or do we? What if almost all of the decisions we make are based on external forces? And in reality, we are just marionettes waiting for the puppet master to pull the strings.
During the first part of the year, certain events transpired that caused Jan and I to start thinking about retirement. Even though it's more than several years away, I guess it's not too early to start thinking about where and how you're going to spend your Golden Years. The "where" part has been a major topic of discussion between us.
For years, I just assumed that this particular spot on the map was where I would end my days. But then the thought came to me that maybe I have a choice in the matter. After all, even though I've spent more of my life here than any other place I've ever called home, I don't really like it here. I don't hate it, but I tolerate it more than anything else. If I had a choice in the matter, I can think of at least a dozen other places where I'd rather live.
So, how did I get here? In my particular case, it was a random, somewhat lengthy process. I was born in Missouri. I should have been born in California, but due to a series of unfortunate events that will make a great story one of these days when all the members of my side of the family have passed on and can't possible read it, I popped out in the Queen City of the Ozarks. After a 20 year stint there, I took a job in Iowa. Completely random occurrence. Then after a job change, I moved to Pennsylvania. Again, completely random. And from there we moved to Northern Illinois, where we are today. Not a random event, but dictated by my job.
In any of these cases, did I have a conscious choice of where I went? No, not really. I could fine tune the landing spot, but the decision on the area was made by outside forces.
But this time ... this time we have a choice in the matter. Sure, there are still outside forces that will influence our decision, but for the most part, it will be our call. And because it will probably be where we spend the rest of our lives, we'd damn well better get it right.
That's a pretty sobering thought.
At times during this process, I've let myself wander down the path to "what if" territory. What if I hadn't been born where I was? What if I hadn't moved here or there? What if I hadn't gone to that party and met Jan?
Would the world have ended in a bright flash of nuclear fire?
That shit boggles your mind. Sort of like trying to understand the intricacies of time travel. And at this time in the morning, I don't need my mind boggled.
So, I think I'll turn that switch off.