blogging, Community

The Destination or Pathway of Life

That old adage… Life is a journey, not a destination! Have you heard it? I have been pondering my own journey, my own path, of late.

Many of us start keen, enthusiastic, running and jumping through the years, none too concerned about potholes or hazards dismissed as temporary obstacles along my path. I tended to follow the path where it took me, not too concerned with the destination ahead. I wasn’t big on long term planning.

I discovered several paths that did not turn out to be thoroughfares at all; in fact, they were dead ends. Other paths required me to take a u-turn, and still others that were so filled with darkness that I turned, then ran from them, back towards the light.

Impending family responsibilities might allow you the luxury of a rethink of career objectives. Mostly this occurs around he birth of children, sometimes it is caring for elderly relatives. The sandwich generation.

Again and again, I have taken paths, convinced that my future destination lay ahead. Some time down the track, the journey became so arduous, the scenery so different to what I had envisaged, that once again I had to admit, this was not the right path for me.

Australia

Now, as I explore a new path, a divergent pathway, I hope, crossing my fingers that not only this path will be a more enlightened one, but that I will also grow stronger with the obstacles that inevitably arise with any new challenge. That I will not trip and fall, but rather will be content, handle and perhaps, better anticipate any problems.

I have learnt many things and enjoyed accumulating knowledge on all the past paths that I have tread. But would it have been better to be a virtuoso of one path, or adept at the many potholes of the few?

Have I bettered my experience or that of others for taking a multitude of paths?

In the end, we all reach the destination and the imprint in history will be the judge.

What about you?

Would you take a different path given your time again? Would a long term vision have sent you in a different direction?

Is Joseph Campbell on the money? In stumbling, we find our greatest treasure?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Good luck on your journey and may our paths cross someday.

Marsha explores more of her destination and features more ponderings.

97 thoughts on “The Destination or Pathway of Life”

  1. Not too long ago I spent some time reflecting on all of the paths I had taken across my 74 years of life. I was triggered into doing it having read about Erik Eriksons hypothesis on the Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development. Having reached his final stage in which there is tension between Ego Integrity vs Despair, I spent time realising the twists and turns I had taken, and saw them all in a very positive light. Sorry, that’s a long winded way of saying I wouldn’t change a thing.

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    1. Not a problem to have a long comment or explanation here, Dr B. Good to hear that your little exercise in self-examination proved fruitful and positive. I guess we can’t really change anything about the past so it is better for us if we can move from regret to acceptance. I love that simple mantra that says,there are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you can’t accept it, change it. If you can’t change it, leave it. And my added 2 cents worth: when we leave it, we look for the lesson the universe was trying to teach us.

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      1. Well, your post triggered me again as it happens because as I sit/lie here only 4 days after a hip replacement, it was a good opportunity to reflect again. I’m thinking more along the lines of how my decisions changed me as a person this time, less on what I did etc.

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        1. Making a decision invariably has consequences. I doubt that many could say that consequences did not change them. The Universe tries to show us or teach us lessons in all kinds of ways but we will only see it if we are receptive!

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  2. Amanda, terrific metaphor and I also enjoyed the journey down the paths you pictured. You are so right, sometimes the path is not the right one, but we still need to venture down it. I also had some paths that I stopped going down that I wish I had continued onward. I do recall a life moment when I took a job, was packing my office up and called my wife and said I cannot do this. With her OK, I called my boss who had to call his boss and I was permitted to stay. Best unwinding of a decision I ever made. I did leave a few of years later, but for a much better job than the one I turned down. Keith

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    1. Your story about the job offer made me think that there was some level of intuition working to influence your thinking there, Keith?
      You say that there was some paths that were necessary and I think we most likely can all relate to that. It is part of life to face responsibility and perform tasks no matter how unwanted, or uninspiring and the paths that were mistakes can always teach us something.
      Those paths that you wished that you continued on with – those lost opportunities that we muse could have made all the difference. They may have, They may not have.
      We made the decision to move forward in a certain direction.
      Hindsight is a marvellous thing. What we might sometimes forget is that the person that made those decisions, (that we now see as wrong or regretful), was a different person to that which we are now. Bearing that in mind, how can we chide ourselves for any decision. It is made, was made and will be made by us at a moment in time to the best of our ability. We all make bad, naive even stupid decisions but no one tries to make them deliberately. We do the best we can with the tools that we have at a given moment in time.

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      1. Amanda, your reply, as with your post, is filled with excellent observations. 20-20 hindsight is a luxury when looking back. Also, we must consider what would not have happened if we did go down that path. If we did invest further in one relationship, it may have precluded the one that worked out well. Thanks again for your well-rounded thoughts. Keith

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        1. Gosh, it is like a mind game thinking of all the what if possibilities and interactions within those possibilities. The one that we chose is the one that is relevant! Still, it is fun to think and see if we can derive any learning from the choice we made.

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  3. With 20/20 hindsight there’s always something which one could do better, different, otherwise. And yet, for my part, I am contend with the path upon which I find myself. Like yours it was never straight, often murky and unclear, and yet – whenever I turned to look for it, somewhere there would be a patch of light. If one did but look…
    But yes, given the chance to do it over again, I might just choose to follow a different path at places. Just to see where it too may have gone … 😉

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    1. This is the realm of the “what ifs,” Northern Dragon. I would love to have another chance to try certain paths to see where it would end. But the world is never the same so it could never BE the same.
      I am realistic enough to see the world of lost opportunity is not something to regret for without those lost chances, I would not have learnt so much about myself, others and life.

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  4. That’s a very hard question, because who know if you had taken a different path you might not have ended up where you are now, and I am very happy where I am now 😄

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    1. Wonderful to hear that you are satisfied and content, Alison. I think this is all anyone wants. Not all seem to be able to achieve that level of Zen – ness!

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  5. A couple of things here and attitudes that I think have served me well.

    1) Adventure begins when things go wrong. And things always go wrong.
    2) Life is often a harsh teacher: first we get the punishment and then we have to figure out what the lesson is!

    In both cases I follow Campbell’s advice: to set out to “live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and of your own mystery. This gives life life new radiance, a new harmony, a new splendor. You learn to recognize the positive values in what appear to be the negative moments and aspects of your life. The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”

    I think it’s all about acceptance of how things are and then working from there.

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    1. Acceptance of how things are and working from there is a terrific approach. It given one a baseline of reference! Gathering knowledge is something that has always attracted me and given me experiences I never thought possible.
      I like the thought of looking at mistakes or misfortune as a kind of adventure.
      Life is a harsh teacher. Well said.

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  6. I find the multiple universes hypothesis appealing. I’ve taken many wrong turns in my life, but I find it easier to regret none of them, secure in the (possibly mistaken) belief that could be other versions of me in alternate universes; some of whom are fully satisfied with their choices, others whose decisions took them to places I’d rather not care to think about — and even some who are wishing they were me.

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    1. The idea of multiple universes with exact copies of us is hard for me to believe. I remember being taken with an old Charlton Heston film from years ago where there was another Earth on the other side of the sun, hidden from our view as it was orbiting the exact same speed as us. The idea intrigued me for some time but I had forgotten all about it til reading your comment. Where did you first read about this hypotheseis?

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      1. I can’t recall where I first found out about the multiple universes hypothesis. I know it wasn’t from science fiction (although I have read a lot of that over the years, so perhaps I’ve been primed to recognise, and sympathise with, it). I wrote a blog post recently that’s related to this topic; you may find it of interest.

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  7. This is a question I have often asked myself. Tried going on single track but family responsibilities side tracked my journies. I am happy with my bumpy trips as India of 80s & 90s was different to the present. Today young women have the environment to follow their dreams.

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    1. So glad to hear you mentioned that things have opened up for young women. LIfe is a rollercoaster sometime and we never know where life will lead us. Surprises are fun, almost all the time.

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    1. Helping those less fortunate is a task that should come naturally for humans. Isn’t that part of being human. Showing kindness and inclusiveness – otherwise what would really separate us from the animal kingdom?

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      1. Just as a quick aside, much of the animal kingdom shows robust evidence for empathy and compassion (usually but not always intra-species). I suspect mirror neurons allow our (shared) biology to do exactly this – put ourselves in another’s shoes, so to speak, so that we can ‘experience’ what we are seeing and understand what might be happening. Women have more mirror neurons and their connected networks than men, and we find mirror neurons not only in other mammals (the ration between brain size and body is a pretty good rule of thumb) but in birds and reptiles, too.

        If anything, this understanding of our biological basis for empathy, compassion, kindness, inclusiveness, but most especially our sense of fairness doesn’t ‘separate us’ from the animal kingdom but indicates our shared place in it.

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        1. That is lovely to hear that we have a shared place, Tildeb. I am not sure it is always shared equitably. I have not heard of mirror neurons in the medical area. Is it a layterm?

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          1. No, the term ‘mirror’ for these neurons was brought forward (late 1990s IIRC) by a team of Italian neuroscientists (Rizzolatti and Gallese) who discovered a significant subset of anterior cingulate neurons will fire to visual stimuli alone (since then, we find correlations during dreaming, too). In other words a bunch of these neurons will fire when you poke your thumb but a subset of the same will also fire if you watch my thumb being poked. Ramachandran has been investigating a link between low mirror neurons and autism, which has been raised through ongoing studies to see if there is a connection between this subset of neurons and the ability to learn. It’s all quite fascinating and recent but it makes sense to me that in order for me to understand consequences, I need some kind of biology to facilitate the process of turning second hand experience into first hand learning. That is certainly the central feature of empathy, compassion, and fairness. And there are reams of studies demonstrating significant concerns about fairness by all kinds of critters.

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            1. Interesting research. If they could find a treatment to stimulate more mirror neurons to fire, the implications for learning for those on the spectrum would be profound.
              Regarding the studies on animals, do you have one you would recommend?

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              1. Ramachandran is famous for using the ‘mirror box’ therapy for amputees who have phantom pain; put the box where the limb should be, have the patient look at the reflected limb, mentally adjust for cramps or discomfort/pain and very often – Poof! – the pain goes away. The role of the visual cortex is key.

                So his interest about these neurons and the visual role (visual cortex is what gets activated by these neurons) we do when learning something new (we tend to ‘see’ solutions even in our imagination) is particularly interesting for treating autistic and Asberger people and increasing their function. I used this method (of visualizing solutions) to particular effect when teaching kids and adults with learning impediments so I know there’s something to it.

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              2. Having worked in Allied Health in the past, I find it intriguing that you used these with kids and adults with learning difficulties. Have you written about this on your blog?

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              3. No. I’ve written about some of my experiences in comments on other blogs when I feel safe to do so. My family and I were targeted with months of violence and harassment and property damage when I wrote as letter to the editor criticizing changes in law to privilege blood ties over equality rights so I cannot subject them to that again. I remain anonymous.

                As a student teacher – and later as a teacher of different levels – I implemented a math program that flipped ‘stupid’ people into ‘smart’ people. (Isn’t it funny how we relate intelligence to math but not, say, swimming?) Although I earned a great deal of praise from education officials, students, and parents, I earned a great deal of ill will from my professional colleagues. I can only surmise that when students achieved so much and felt empowered by their ownership of their progress and understanding, those teachers who had failed to gain this same result from their own efforts were threatened and angry and perhaps frustrated. (Perhaps if any of them had asked me how I did this, things might have been different but when one grows up in various countries learning various math algorithms for the same thing, one learns many ways to teach the same idea. Very handy!) This same professional resentment happened across all grades and into prep courses for university as well as remedial classes where I even had heads of school criticize me for failing to send students to their offices for disciplinary actions. The problem was that there were no disciplinary problems I couldn’t handle and, with the help of the real troublemakers setting the tone, turn the class into a fun-filled and enjoyable one students wanted to be in. Terrible strategy, I guess. Go figure.

                So a key ingredient is to figure out what isn’t present to facilitate learning. And when this happens, it was hard getting out of the way of the motivated student (especially adults!). This is why understanding neurology matters; if one correctly identifies a functional problem (it ain’t personal!), then one is far more likely to figure out a workable solution, which breeds success. So I would always insist that these on-fire students wracking up top marks and chewing through curriculum and being treated differently by peers and parents not ‘blame’ me; they had earned it. I just helped them find the ON switch.

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              4. Interesting – find out what is missing. I am sorry to hear that your efforts sometimes caused trouble. Trailblazers are often resented by the establishment. It sounds just awful that people would subject you or your family to harassment. I have been told this kind of thing happens in the UK, but didn’t fully believe it was to this kind of extent. It seems it is true. Shocking. And can’t blame you for wanting to be anonymous.

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  8. I wasn’t big on planning, just coped with what came my way. Looking back, there isn’t much I would change. I wonder what would have happened if I’d been a big dreamer. My life might have been a colossal nightmare!

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    1. We leave traces of our life through the patterns we follow. I wonder if I would be able to see things if I wrote some kind of memoir. I love how industrious you are with your writing, Ineke! Well done.

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  9. Thank you for another thought-provoking post. If given the chance to do it all over-again, i would stick to the paths that I have taken. Each of them led me to where I am now, surrounding by amazing people. And this is esactly where I want to be!

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    1. I am glad you found the Sunday Reflections thought-provoking. I do love to hear what other bloggers are thinking about topics of importance. I feel it is so important to hear other points of view! You sound very contented in the journey through life, Donna and especially nice to hear that you met amazing people along the way. It sounds like you are a very confident, pro-active person who doesn’t experience much in terms of self-doubt? If so, was that a characteristic that comes from genetic or environmental origins, may I ask. Or perhaps, both?

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  10. A great post Amanda, very thought provoking. Goodness, I’ve wandered down more of life’s paths than I care to remember, and sometimes I wonder where I’d be now if I’d stuck to only one or two. But then, all roads lead to Rome as the saying goes, and I suspect I’d be in almost the same place as I am now, only I wouldn’t have had all the experiences of the different pathways if I’d only taken the one road. Some roads have been bumpy, and like you, we’ve had to make some u-turns along the way. But some roads have been breathtakingly beautiful and memorable along the way. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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    1. All the roads lead to Rome! They do, so it is just the route we take that might be a little varied. I find that reassuring to think about, Chris. The bumpy roads we would prefer to be without, but then they have provided us with lessons that helped us!

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          1. If you think about it, have you ever learned from anyone who always agrees fully with you? I haven’t.

            A mistake is an opportunity to learn, to become better, know more, move towards activated potential. The students called my red pen notations The Red Pen of Justice. We had a lot of fun.

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            1. Haha. The red pen of justice!
              No I don’t think you can learn from ‘yes,’ men. Those who challenge us in a respectful way engender way deeper introspection and thinking in us, (or at least in me), into our emotions, reactions and the basis for our opinions. This is exactly why I believe respectful freedom of speech is vital. We need media that publishes all kinds of points of view, so that we can form our own perspective, balanced according to our own history and point we are sitting at, in that journey of life. Unfortunately, litigation has stabbed at the very heart of balanced journalism, seemingly causing a mortal blow.

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  11. Pondering how things would have been different I often reflect on the move of my parents to come to Australia from Holland. I know ‘pondering’ it is one of the luxuries that come with ageing.

    Overall, it has been a journey of lots of ups and downs and overall very satisfying. I find that the routine of doing domestic chores are really the backbone of living.

    Of course, social intercourse with other people is also very important. I don’t know how those continuous lockdowns will pan out. It is very difficult.

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    1. I am sorry to hear that you are finding the lockdown difficult, Gerard, but at least we can connect through the internet and blogging to feel that we are not so isolated. Mental health takes a hiding!
      The decision to immigrate across the world by our forefathers, or in your case, parents, was a monumental decision and I too think about what went through their minds. In the case of my great grandfather, the journey itself was somewhat precarious and difficult. A bit like being in lockdown. Males separated from females, even if they were married. Only a short time allowed above decks. Can you imagine?
      Interesting that you said the domestic chores are the backbone of living. That routine provides and grounds us to reality and the conscious shifting and passing of time. Without routine, we are completely spontaneous. Is that a way to live for some people?

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    1. You made the best of a less than ideal situation, Derrick and I commend you on that. The fact that you say you would do it all again is indicative of how successful you were! I will have a read of the linked post. Thank you.

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  12. Although I love to plan the various details of life (holidays, social plans, home improvements that we rarely get around to doing), I don’t think I have planned the core elements of my life. In marriage, I took a jump into the unknown and it worked 😀 In my career, I took some opportunities that came along, or adjusted to deal with unforeseen changes (e.g. redundancy) but I didn’t plan for them much. And yet I’m happy with the paths I’ve followed to date and only occasionally wonder what would have happened had I made other decisions. Good luck for the journey on your new path 🛣☘

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. I love that life’s little surprises push us in different directions and there isn’t any way we can control and predict from one day to the next. If we try, we would not really be living. Being adaptable to changes and rolling with the punches seems to be the easiest way to tackle the difficult challenges. Realising that I should focus on the things I could do, and let go the things I could not change, was a moment that changed the weight of burdens I had on my shoulders. I probably realised that profound thought way too late in life. How do you manage the unforeseen events on holidays, given that they are an aspect of life that you like to plan carefully?

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      1. Oh I’m cool with those – it’s all part of the fun! I see plans as a framework that don’t have to be followed to the letter but give you a strong sense of where you’re headed. And for holiday plans in particular, the planning is part of the fun and I know we won’t do everything I’ve researched 😉

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  13. Always a good thought to ponder. I do not think I would go back and make changes. My “wrong” paths often turned out to be the one that led me to tap into my creativity, or increase my own self awareness. It all made who I am right now, who I am, and I like her!

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    1. Increasing one’s self-awareness – such a useful skill that gives enormous benefits in understanding challenges. Self-awareness of our limitations and strengths does give me an edge in managing expectations and goals. I like that you have been able to divert wrong paths into a more creative pursuit. This shows your underlying creativity is blossoming! A small comparison that makes me relate to this is one of my art teacher’s who said, if you make a mistake in painting a line here or there, see if you can turn it into something else, rather than wiping it out. That challenges my mind to think outside the square and views mistakes in such a positive light! That is way less stressful!

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  14. Some great quotes here, Amanda and your questions are very ponderous. How do you do that? WOW!

    This would be a great post to link to my Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays tomorrow on exploration. That is what you are doing as you get lost and find new beauty. It sounds like you are at a crossroads.

    I am not a sandwich generation, not having children, and having my husband’s and my parents gone. I have never been a virtuoso at anything, but a learner of many things. I do not expect to make a big imprint on history. How or why does one set out to do that anyway?

    One of my goals a few years ago was that I thought I might write a great book that someone would want to turn into a movie, but that goal has slipped aside and I’m no longer motivated by it. I spend a lot of time taking photographs and writing blog posts, which is very fulfilling, but I’m not expecting anything earth shaking to come from it.

    I’m happy with most of my pathways and would do most of them again. It’s hard to imagine taking any other ways in life. I believe that God is in control of my life and He has blessed me even when I have failed or others have failed me. I hope my life blesses others in some way and brings honor to Him even through the mistakes and sins that are part of the fabric of who I am.

    Thanks for the great thoughts, Amanda.

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    1. You highlight the role that faith has played for you in coming to terms with the purpose of your life. It obviously is a great comfort to you and nurtures those contented feelings. Whether you have children or not, whether you have faith or not, or whether you have a big imprint on history or not, you have to find a place where you can be comfortable with your direction in life, your past and any regrets, and what is going to happen in coming years.
      How do one set out to have an imprint, you asked? It starts with an idea I think – an idea you would like to see come to fruition.
      I have a lot of ideas that, like your movie, slip aside during the development phase, due sometimes to impracticalities, sometimes due to loss of enthusiasms. Overall, I think trying to live for the present moment and planning ahead without fixation has helped me cope with the rollercoaster of life and if the ideas work or are followed through with, depends on what happens around me or how I feel about them. It makes my life a little more spontaneous, and less structured, but it is also relaxed and keeps me from getting stuck in the future or the past, which is where worry, regret and anxiety manifest.
      Happy for you to post a link fro your Wednesday post and I can add a ping on this post, once yours is published, Marsha.
      Thanks for a great comment.

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      1. Thanks for your great response as well, Amanda. What a thinker you are. You remind me of Sadje. I don’t know if you know her, but when my post comes out tomorrow with all the links, be sure to chase hers down if you don’t know her already. I think I’m fairly in the moment now. I accomplished all the goals I had for myself in my career and then some. In retirement, I also accomplished my goals. I enjoy life the time to enjoy my favorite pastimes.

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  15. It’s interesting to think back on the paths that you’ve taken. I find it hard to speculate what it would’ve been like if I had taken another path, all the possibilities of events that could’ve happend (or not happend). I guess that’s the beauty in not knowing and Joseph puts so nicely. Can’t say I’m much of a life planner as I know others to be- makes life a bit more DIY. I’m starting to think the more paths that you’ve been on the better to experience all that life can offer. I think the past year has resulted in less paths for everyone which has really frustrated me.

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    1. Everyone is a bit frustrated with how this pandemic is dragging on and on and on. This is another of life’s experiences. Think of previous generation that had to endure world war, or even the Great depression and it kind of puts a lockdown into perspective.
      Having said that, you are right about the more paths the better. Being spontaneous makes life interesting. Looking back to see what might have happened is a fun exercise, but we will never know for sure!

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            1. I see that it is most appropriate in this instance. Past choices with big implications indeed. I can think of a few of those, in my life. I guess it works both ways though. Positively as well as negatively.

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  16. I’m a strange little man. I’ve told that to some relatives and friends…and they’ve agreed! I’m strange in that I’m bolder now than when I was younger. The old saying that you get a little bit older and a lot less older doesn’t seem to apply to me. Then again, many of life’s rules don’t apply to me. I’m now much more likely to speak my mind and not apologize or regret what I’ve said.

    More importantly, I know I can’t change what’s happened in the past, so I can only move forward. After a lifetime of following other people’s paths, I’ve wandered off onto my own!

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    1. I am so glad to hear that you found your own path, Alejandro. Following another’s path is bound to end in some level of regret. I don’t find you strange at all. What is normal? Who says what is normal anyway? Is strange an unsettled feeling when we meet someone? Someone who has different ideals, values or morals to our own. They must be different but by whose definition, strange?

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  17. Beautiful post! For sure I’d have taken another path. I’m grateful for being here and now. But if I could I would go back, exactly 15 years back, and keep up with the path that I had, but I decided to change it, and now I’m sorry.

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  18. Your thoughts on life’s journey was so accurately described! It’s difficult to know sometimes whether it’s better to try to plan as many details out as possible or celebrate that in actuality, our plans don’t always work out like we wanted them to.

    I enjoyed your post article. Thank you for sharing. Sincerely, Kyra

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