Have you ever remembered a moment from the past and then thought what if or had a grand realization about that moment? I did recently. Let me paint the scenario. I was discussing books I have always meant to read but never made the time for. One of those was Fahrenheit 451 which I am reading now. Thinking about this brought a memory to the surface. It was a memory from my college days and a girl named Brooke.
Brooke was a skinny thing with wavy brown hair and a light complexion. I don’t remember much else about her. She was nice and she was pretty and she was in my post-modern novel class. During that class we read Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and afterwards I went on a Vonnegut rampage and when time came for the test on Cat’s Cradle I hauled in everything from Siren’s of Titan to Breakfast of Champions to help me.
One day after class she volunteered to me that she had tried to read Fahrenheit 451 but didn’t like it as much as Cat’s Cradle. She had mistaken Ray Bradbury for Kurt Vonnegut and I didn’t bother to correct her. In fact I don’t think I said much more than a grunt and a shrug. Brooke was pretty you see and in my young mind I couldn’t fathom a girl like that being interested in me, but my much older mind thought back to that moment and realized she had attempted to read this book because of me. To have something to talk about with me.
Life and time are funny thing. I don’t regret not saying more to Brooke at that time or anything at all. She was a nice girl and pretty but who knows exactly why she read that book. Maybe she just wanted to have more to talk about as friends. Maybe she was interested in me and it wouldn’t have worked out but have taken long enough to not work out that my wife would have met someone else by then. The past is hard to look back on, but wouldn’t it be grand if we could go back and venture down the divergent paths of our lives?
What if I could go back to that moment and tell her no that’s Ray Bradbury. Try Mother Night it’s the best Vonnegut book I’ve read. Or better yet what if I took the hint and said I’m sorry you didn’t like it but would you like to discuss it over dinner sometime. What would have happened? I don’t and can’t know. Maybe she says no right then and there or maybe we go out, have a good time, and I end u viewing myself living a different life.
What causes regret is we imagine these moments. The mistakes that litter our past and imagine the life branching out from them is better than the one we have. That can’t always be the case and it is probably never the case. The likely scenario isn’t that those other lives are better just different. Not this life, and if I were to end up in one of those other lives right now I would certainly miss my current one.