: views from the Hill

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Eve miscommunication

A delicious home-cooked dinner and music and wine (loads of wine) and champagne at friends' place up the hill on New Year's Eve.

We had an assignment: Bring one thing you would change in your life.

After dinner, we went one-by-one around the table to share our thing we would change and ... turns out the hostess (whose assignment it was) and most of the other guests were talking about the one thing they would change in their past.

I'd thought the assignment was what one thing would we change about our life as it currently exists. And, of course, the next question would be ... so, why aren't you changing it?

The question was interesting and all the more interesting because everyone seemed to have something in their life they'd like to change, from getting more education to having more children to taking or not taking a job to marrying their current husband forty years ago instead of eight.

But ... as his nibs pointed out ... if that one thing he would change in his life had changed, he'd never have met me and wouldn't be having NYE with friends at the top of Telegraph Hill.

I shared, instead of what I'd planned, a major regret I have that would've changed everything ... everything, if I'd made a different choice.

I had been accepted at UCDavis, which offered me a Regent's Scholarship if I accepted, but the scholarship didn't cover the entire cost of the university and room and board. I'd still have to come up with $200 which, in 1969, was more than just a few pretty pennies. My parents would not chip in the $200 I needed to make ends meet. They had other children also in college and if you took my $200 request and multiplied it by ... Well, you know.

The deadline for accepting the admission and committing to UCD came and I had to tell them no. I just didn't have the $200 and had no reason to believe that I would be able to gen up that kind of money over the summer.

Two weeks after the deadline came and went, I was chosen for a two-month summer internship at NASA-Ames working in the exo-biology division on the Mars Viking project. The internship came with an $800 stipend.

If I'd just toughed it out, accepted the scholarship, gone full-bore ahead, I would've gone to a different school, met different people, taken different jobs to earn the money I needed, and turned out a totally different person. Maybe I'd even have wound up doing what I'd dreamed of doing: plant genetics to develop new crops to feed a hungry world.

The kid in me still regrets that choice, but I wouldn't be here right now, if I hadn't made it.

Regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

On the other hand, what one thing would I change in my life?

More foghorns, fewer angry bitter people.
More naps and patches of sunshine, fewer to-do lists.
More books read, fewer guilt trips.
More cozy suppers -- homemade and otherwise, fewer must-dos, must-attends, musts.
More hugs, less stuff.
More living the moment, less self-induced pressure.
More quiet times, fewer doctor visits.
More times with old friends, less fussing.
More veggies, less butter.
More walking, less vegging.

"Be happy" ... just be happy. That's the thing I would change in my life.

What would you change in yours?

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