I Did it My Way (sigh…)

Daily Prompt: I Did it My Way, by Krista on February 11, 2014: Describe the one decision in your life where you wish you could get a “do-over.” Tell us about the decision, and why you’d choose to take a different path this time around.

“Ha ha ha ha ha, oh my, ha ha ha, this is the funniest thing.” She wiped tears of laughter from her eyes.
“This cartoon in The New Yorker.” She passed the magazine to her friend. In a classic New Yorker cartoon, an old man and an old woman sat on lawn chairs in front of a trailer  holding cold drinks. Highballs? Lemonade? The man said to the woman, “I have only one regret; I did it my way.”
“What’s funny about it? You’re so bitter. That’s going to make you miserable in the end.”
“This is the end, my friend.”
“Surely you don’t have any regrets. You’ve had a fascinating long life.”
“I know and I’m grateful for that but in most respects, it wasn’t my life. I listened too much to people who were older than I, people I felt had authority over me. I tried too hard to be ‘happy’ in the normal sense. Of course, it must have been in my nature to do that — so I have lived ‘my’ life — but at the same time, I know that if circumstances had been different, my life would have been different.”
“That’s true of everyone.”
“I suppose. Yes, I believe you’re right, but…”
“Give me once example of not ‘doing it your way’?”
“Well, college. I wanted to go to college on the west coast; my mom had visions of a archwomen’s college and me walking around in skirts and bobby-socks, becoming a TV journalist.”
“Skirts and bobby-socks? That was the forties or fifties, right? Weren’t you alive in the ’70’s?”
“I resent your use of the past tense in referring to my life.”
“Sorry. I wasn’t thinking”
“I forgive you. That was my mom’s dream for herself, I think. She grew up with pretty much nothing. She wanted better for me but never really understood I was not her. She saw me as rebellious. In fact, I was just someone else. She was powerful, though, and I wanted very much to please her.”
“Did you?”
“No. Never. You can’t straddle a fence like that — even she pointed it out. She’d say ‘part of you wants to be a hippy and part of you doesn’t’. In fact, I never wanted to be a hippy. I just wanted to be myself. I wanted to be an artist, a world traveler and various other things.”
“You are those things.”
“Nature will out. I would have started all that a lot sooner, but instead I married and attempted that life. It didn’t work. I always — I mean since I was a kid! — knew that was not my style, but…  Look, this is a very depressing topic. Could we talk about something else?”
“I just want to know what you would have done differently.”
“I could not have done anything differently. I told you this was all related to circumstances and to the nature of my personality. My dad was sick and dying. My mom was scared and lonely. My brother was messed up. At that moment in my life — that ‘Youth, Identity and Crisis’ moment — well, I did what I did. Ultimately life, a happy life, is not about the choices we should have made, but of making the best of the choices we DID make and the circumstances into which we were born.”


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