Whether it was the missed connection, the dream job, the international man of mystery, the lady in red, the big fish, or the 200+ inch, double drop tine buck**, nothing haunts us quite like the one that got away.
Having lived long enough to have made my share of questionable decisions, the best decision is to have no regrets.
If in the agony and urgency of attempting to make a life-changing decision I can remind myself there is not just one perfect soul mate, one perfect job, or one chance of a lifetime, this is easier.
Granted, these opportunities are rare. But I’ve come to trust that what is meant for me has a curious way of circling back around.
Through a series of outrageous occurrences, I was invited to Miami Beach for a creative writing residency by the founder and creative director of one of the world’s finest greeting card companies. The chance to spend a little time writing cards at the beach escalated into an opportunity to become an integral part of the company.
Anyone who knows me knows being part of a creative team of writers and artists and brilliant minds is a dream come true. Everything about this opportunity beckoned me. Exceptional people. Exceptional place. Exceptional potential.
Except for the equal and opposite dream I have been quietly crafting in my own back yard.
Before I had a home, a husband to be, and a steady job that supports my writing habit and frequent flights of fancy, I would often imagine in detail what a free-spirited, super successful, single person’s writing life should look like.
Suffice it to say, it looked like what I was now being offered. Living the dream for a few days was intoxicating.
Returning to the reality of my regularly scheduled life was excruciating. Not because it isn’t alluring in its own right, but because I had been unequivocally altered. Only those closest to me knew to what extent.
I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t reconcile the gap between achieving what I’ve always wanted professionally and the price it would exact personally.
In getting a glimpse of this parallel life in all its glory, I got that my dreams must evolve as I do. Like an app on an iPad, I must update them regularly in order to address the glitches I fail to factor in when I originally envision them.
Life-changing decisions are not meant to be easy. By their very nature they urge us to evaluate everything, question our assumptions, check our egos, inventory what’s important, and listen deeply to our own wisdom.
They are designed to wreak havoc. They are going to cause some grief since something has got to give and some things have got to go.
Adding to the pressure, they are usually time-sensitive and affect other unsuspecting people.
We remember the one that got away with such angst because he/she/it catapulted us out of our comfort zone and demanded we address our soul’s deeper yearnings.
Whether we act on the invitation, take a leap of faith, and change our current trajectory or not, the real gift is conjuring up the courage to consider doing so.
To feel deeply, love flat out, and shamelessly want what we want reminds we are alive with infinite input into how we live our lives.
Living this way is both exhilarating and exhausting. And will undoubtedly define us as the one that got away in someone else’s story.
Now go. Discover creative ways to live your updated, awe-inspiring dream. Live large in small areas of your life. Or go big and still go home. Whatever works. It’s up to you.
And when you get a minute, tell me about it in the comments below.
**I only know about such things because the buck is Bob’s dream. No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.