The Road Not Taken – IOTW Report

The Road Not Taken

This was sent in anonymously.

I think about this type of stuff a lot.

As I’ve said often, I grew up in a rough neighborhood before my teens. What if my parents never moved? What if my dad didn’t get that better job and we stayed on the wrong side of the tracks. Would I be different? Would I sound different? Would I look different?


“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Through the Internet”

I was online recently, checking in with Breitbart, American Thinker, and various conservative websites, when for some reason it occurred to me to look up a former boyfriend. A former, relatively long-term, serious relationship boyfriend, who I had lost contact with decades ago. Way before politics mattered to either of us.


He was easier to locate online than I expected. But while scanning the google entries, I saw one where his name appeared with Barack Obama’s. What the heck is this? I thought, so I clicked the link.


It took me to a news article from many years back, about a speech then-President Obama was giving after some meetings in a distant state. My ex had some sort of leadership role in them, so Obama gave him a personalized shout-out during the speech, singling him out for recognition and thanks.


The article went on, quoting my ex’s post-shout-out gratitude and near-euphoria. I had a brief mental image of those old newsreels of Beatles groupies screaming and fainting. An exaggerated parallel, but still it came to mind.


I reread the article a couple of times, reflecting upon what might have been–and what that might have meant for my life.


How could someone have changed so much? Or had he changed? Were these just unrevealed parts of his personality and inner convictions, not seen then because of our youth? I looked at his photo, which was included in the article. If I had come across this article, without his name in it, would I even have recognized him? The person described in the article was a someone I didn’t know, even though there were a few facts that hadn’t changed. Everything else was baffling. We had been so close, but were now so very far apart.


I sat back and thought more about it. What would life have been like, if we hadn’t become separated through moves and differing choices of schools? What would be like now if we had stayed together? Would I be a different person than I am? Would he be different than he is? Or would it have ended up in terminal disagreement?


Are our personal convictions–political or otherwise–fixed parts of us, or do they grow and develop partly because of the people with whom we decide to spend our lives?


The “roads not taken” can end up in very strange places.



33 Comments on The Road Not Taken

  1. “What would life have been like, if we hadn’t become separated through moves and differing choices of schools?”

    Most of these libtards are created the halls of academia.

  2. In H.S. I had a very attractive girlfriend. I intended to marry her once I got settled in the Navy. Wasn’t long after boot that my Dad broke it to me that she had been seen riding around our small town with another guy. She confirmed that in the usual Dear John letter. I was crushed. Same old story.

    5 or 6 years later, I’m working in a nearby town when I saw her passing by pushing a stroller with kids walking behind. She didn’t see me and I almost didn’t recognize her. She was 5’7 and very well built in H.S. but had gone from 130 to at least 225, possibly closer to 250. She also never married, I later learned. That’a a bullet I dodged because I had learned just in time of what a treacherous slut she was.

    Roads not taken…sometimes you choose a direction at a fork, other times you’re forced to detour. Either way may end up working out for you in the end.

  3. Interesting question.

    I was placed in foster care when I was a kid. My three brothers were adopted. We’re different occupationally (one brother is a mennonite farmer, one brother is a state accountant, and the other is a warehouse laborer while I became a psychologist/therapist/Pastor).

    Ironically I was the only to drop out of HS but I am the only one with a college degree (have 5 of them).

    We only got back together after 50 years apart and have a surprising number of things (and physical features) in common. Our wives even look surprisingly similar.

    Sadly however genes will tell – each of us (as horror’s to the insurance world) have the same physical issues – weight, diabetes, neuropathy, heart attacks/bypass surgery, etc.)

    We all wonder how we would have turned out if we faced life together? Our family life was full of violence and alcohol but none of us fought substance abuse but gave into other types of addictive behavior.

    Okay – enough disclosure as if you really wanted this TMI.

  4. The “road not taken” was not taken – so …?
    Nature – Nurture?
    Would I be a different man had I been born negro? Well, DUH!
    Would I be a different man had I been born woman? Well, DUH!

    Mostly, we make choices – for good or ill – which we all think good when we make them, even though others may tell us that those choices are poor.

    What is beyond our control is truly, beyond our control! And shouldn’t be fretted over.

    I realize it’s an interesting thought experiment – like what would have happened if Operation Sea Lion had come off? – but it’s no more than idle speculation, at best, a waste of time, at worst.

    Yes, I am an asshole – I shoulda been 6’2″, 180 lbs, with “large hands” but …

    izlamo delenda est …

  5. I wonder – on a daily basis – what my life would be like had my mother not passed in 1990 when I was 17 years old.

  6. One of my favorite movies, “Sliding Doors” makes an attempt at answering these questions.
    I’ve decided not to ponder these things anymore, as I call that thinking “Woulda coulda shoulda”.
    I live today. Got to move forward.

  7. When I was 18-20, I was dating the sweetest, prettiest gal you could ever meet. She was one of those rare red-heads who could get tan. I’m telling you, she was a fox! Great parents, too! We were very close. Marriage would have been a slam dunk and we knew it would happen soon. Yes, she was my first love and I hers, but the love was real. We dated two years while I was playing junior hockey in Michigan. I moved away to Seattle to pursue my hockey career that was never going to be. I guess I wasn’t done with hockey yet. Well, long story short the relationship came to an end. Hard to keep a relationship going when you are 2300 miles apart. It was a gradual decline. Those are the worst breakups btw.

    She is one of the type of person that will cross your mind here and there, even 25 years later. There are no regrets, no sadness, just…thoughts of what could have been.

    My curiosity got the best of me fairly recently during my most recent remembrance of her. She just popped into my head, without warning, without reason, so I decided to try and look her up on the internet.

    I found her, although I didn’t find a picture, she is doing quite well. When I say quite well, I mean she is living a million dollar life. Married, 2 kids, HUGE home. While finding all of this out I honestly felt very happy for her. No jealousy. No envy. Just happy. To be honest with you, I felt happy because she chose the the right road. I felt a little relived. I could never have given her the life she enjoys now. Sometimes the road not taken is better left not taken.

  8. The older you get the more you’re haunted by thoughts like these. I suggest leaving the mental masturbation to others. You’ll be much better off for it.

  9. I am where I am today because the LORD has guided my path and told me don’t date her- go down this road- stay away from that person-
    etc.. what may seem right in our own eyes (mind) will and usually does lead to disappointments stay the course God has put you on-and trust in him.. 🙂

  10. I don’t know why people do this, it is of no utility unless you failed to glean the past’s lessons. The past is both a place and a time; you really can never go home again.

    Living in the past creates depression. Living in the future, anxiety. Living in the present can be happiness. Living with gratitude in the present is the key to happiness.

  11. Cream rises to the top
    Doing the right thing and letting the odds play out, works for the best
    Good deeds don’t go totally unnoticed
    Crime doesn’t pay
    Character matters

  12. The present always changes, but the past is always the way it was. You leave it, and go to the present, but it is still there, waiting for you to come back to it. – Cory Ford, The Road to Tinkhamtown

  13. Trusting Divine Providence helps me stop torturing myself with “why” and “what if” questions. It helps me stop assigning events to good/bad luck/fortune and coincidence, and lay them in the realm of “Thy will be done,” instead of “my will be done.” The twists and turns of earthly life will all make sense in the beginning of eternal life.

  14. I don’t believe that I made the wrong choice when I married my wife even though things didn’t turn out the way I would’ve wanted them to be especially after she left me after 30 years of marriage and then got leukemia 5 years later and then died. I never divorced her and a lot of people thought I was nuts for not doing so, I just felt that it would’ve made things far worse if I had divorced her. She was the most beautiful yet contrary woman I ever knew but I’d probably do it all over again hoping for a better outcome and for the sake or of our 3 children and now 2 granddaughters. I have no regrets, it wasn’t easy but I have had more grace than I would’ve otherwise had because God helped me get thru the last 10 years without cracking up or going over the deep end like she did.

  15. The SO and I were having this very discussion last week, what could have been?
    Yes it can be fun, but it can also be sad.
    We are where we are because we thought we were making the best decisions with the best information we had at the time.
    If you go with that (doing the best with what you’ve got) then that will mitigate the regrets and prevent the depression that goes along with “woulda-coulda-shoulda”.

  16. When I think of all the things that could have happened I’m just thankful. There are so many times that worked out better than I have any right to expect – in the right places at the right times, said something or heard something that sparked a different path, etc. I don’t believe in karma, predestination, or ‘luck’ but even after bad times, I found out later there was a reason for them that included something for the good.

    Your best plans don’t survive the first contact with the enemy, so roll with it. Adapt, improvise, overcome. You don’t get out of this alive. 🙂

  17. Bman makes a good point: at some point(s) in our lives, WE are the road best left untaken by others. I know I have been.

  18. I would rather think of it as the road taken. As a young guy I was definately on the wrong road, headed for trouble. Not going to bore you with the details, but I made a couple good decisions, grew up, and I’m way better off for it.

  19. Hans, it’s a great story. And I’m so happy you got to see your brothers again!
    Honestly, I think it would be damn close to torture for me if I found out I had a sibling somewhere I never met.

  20. (doing the best with what you’ve got)
    Menotu- I agree!

    There’s a reason people don’t walk the other road. They weren’t ready to, or they weren’t willing to at that time. Even if you did take that other road, that’s no guarantee your life would have been SO much better. Relationships, jobs, money, sanity, friendship, love, self confidence, is not guaranteed on either road.

  21. All this fork business. Now I’m hungry. I’m going to take the road to the kitchen. 😀
    Keep commenting, guys. I love hearing these stories.

  22. Some of the comments on here are wise and touching. Intended consequences are the actions that we can see but are minute compared the unintended consequences that we can’t see. This can be likened to throwing a rock into a pool of water. Where the rock lands is the intended consequence and the waves and ripples are the unintended consequences. This complex dynamic prevents us from seeing into the future. It is also the dynamic that makes large government fail. Only time travel and the access to parallel universes would give us the answer to “what ifs”. Maybe some day, grasshopper.

  23. I have a childhood friend, we get together occasionally, for the last 60 years.
    We were in the first grade together, best friends pretty much forever.
    Reminiscing about childhood, who died, who got married, who got divorced, kids born.
    The first two dominate the conversations anymore.
    His wife always sits, smokes and listens.
    Her usual question is: “What would y’all have done different?”
    We look at each other, smile and tell her: “Not married my first wife.”
    “What would y’all do the same?”
    He says: “Married you.”
    She is so easy.
    Another favorite of hers is: “What did your mothers think of you two?”
    “They thought we were angels.”
    We were boys, dirty, barefoot, marsh rats that liked guns and making things go boom.
    It’s a wonder that we both still have all our digits.
    Wouldn’t change a thing.
    It’s a Wonderful Life

  24. Was kind of a badass when young (I WAS the kid who would beat up your kid and the first one in grade school to get drunk) but thanks to God’s protection I never did anything to get arrested or put in jail for.

    I was a mean kid in foster care, lying, stealing, and causing problems especially after discovering no one wanted to adopt me (hey I had red hair and freckles AND dimples).
    (I learned later the foster care folks were keeping me away from adoptions because they got extra money from Social Security because my dad was a deceased disabled vet).

    The judge set me straight when I was a material witness against one of my friends who did do a bad deed when he told me it might be time to join the Navy. I took a GED (passed with exceptional scores) and enlisted.

    Chief Young (the biggest blackest manly man I ever met in my life straightened me out and taught me how to be a man as well) gets the credit. He also (talk about mixing religion and state) got me into a relationship with Jesus. The Chief taught me to learn to work and earn with my brain.

    No matter how my life has twisted Jesus has been in my past, active in the present, and waits for me in the future. God is good.

    Each of my brothers know that if we had remained at home we’d have ended in jail, dead, or alcoholics. We have peace.


    First person in 20 years NOT to call it “The Road Less Traveled.”

  26. I don’t know, I’m still amazed every single day that I have the life I have and to most I suppose it’s not that great but I am incredibly thankful for it.

    That little story here a couple days ago told by Moe Tom has stuck with me: “Did we lose anyone today, Sarge? No. Well, then it’s been a good day.”

    I’ve had a couple forks in the road that, having taken the other route, would have changed my life in unimaginable ways. The first was being recruited to the first graduating class of women at the Air Force Academy and turning it down in favor of a marriage proposal. The second was not taking my broker’s advice to buy $10K in Microsoft in 1986. I have zero regrets for the former, even though my husband died ten years later. The latter? Well…some things are best left unmentioned.

    I’m told God made the world round so we couldn’t see too far ahead — or too far back.

  27. For some reason, there was never really a question for me as to which road. I always knew which road. It was as if there wasn’t even a choice, really. No dithering, no debating. After enduring a sometimes hellish childhood, it was as if God was whispering in my ear, “Go this way….,” even when I did not believe in Him. He was there for me, guiding me, giving me a chance to climb from darkness and use my life for good. So for me, no looking back. Ever.

  28. Looking back on our lives and thinking what it could have been isn’t what it’s about .wrong turns were made and some good and bad decisions were too but any day that You get to wake up is a blessing in it own . Luke 9:62

  29. So many tender stories shared today. Thank you.
    Years ago I was in a Bible class and the teacher said something that really resonated with me, “The meaning of forgiveness is giving up the hope that things could have been any different.” This was in reference to forgiving oneself.

Comments are closed.