My daughter, who I don’t get to see nearly as much as I would like, came down this Memorial Day weekend to spend some time with her old man. Tonight, I got tired of watching the NBA playoffs, thus suggested a movie. Anyone that has tried to get on the same page with a teenager knows how difficult that can be. Well, we (really I) settled on a movie she had not seen before. I had previously seen the movie, so I thought she might enjoy it. We settled on “The Butterfly Effect.”
Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda
The movie features Ashton Kutcher, who has the ability, after reading problematic journal entries, to go back in time to change elements of his past. Each time he goes back to try to fix something, a new issue arises in a different part of his life. The movie always makes me think about events in my life and how things might be different if I had taken a different path in my youth.
Those of you that have read my blog know that I recently attempted to go back to college in my late forties. Going back to school now is not an easy choice whatsoever. Things could have been different.
When I graduated from high school, I had a girlfriend. I didn’t want to go off to college and leave her. My parents wanted me to go to college and would have paid for it, but, instead, I chose to sit out a year (turned into ten) to work with my Dad in the construction industry. I eventually ended up not only losing the girl, but also the chance to go to college. What did that decision do to my future? What did it do to my present? If I had gone to college early on, how would my life be different? Would it be better or worse? Hard to tell.
A few years later, I ended up going to a business college for Accounting and Data Processing. After finishing school, I accepted a job working for a graphics company as a staff accountant. I was in no way ready for that position just having graduated from this little business college. I started at the company helping the staff accountant. One Monday I came to work and the president and vice president of the company met me in a conference room to let me know they fired the staff accountant. They asked me if I wanted the job. Reluctantly, I said yes. Eventually, the company wanted to send me to college to get my accounting degree. I really didn’t like the job, thus didn’t want to have the company pay for my degree, knowing I wasn’t long for the job, thus I rejected the offer and another shot at a degree.
A few years later, my Grandfather, who could talk to anyone, somehow brought me up to a waitress he had met at a restaurant he and my Grandma frequented. He eventually coaxed a picture from her, giving it to me. Well, I followed up on the opportunity. We dated for a couple of years, eventually getting married and having a daughter. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last, thus I experienced one of the most painful periods in my life.
That painful period continues to linger. Any divorced Dad knows what I am talking about. All the time we miss spending with our children due to divorce and the court system. Every other weekend eventually turned into once a month and then every couple of months. I expected time to dwindle as my daughter got older, but that still doesn’t make it any easier. Should I have told my Grandpa I wasn’t interested when he gave me the picture? If so, I could have avoided a lot of pain and frustration, BUT, I wouldn’t have the beautiful, smart daughter that I have now. I think Garth Brooks said it best in his song, “The Dance.”
I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end, the way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance; I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.
I guess the movie is very similar to “Back to the Future” at least as far as the premise goes. Going back in time always seems to have its consequences on the present or future. We all say how great it would be to go back in time to save ourselves or loved ones some pain, but when you think about the consequences, maybe a time-traveling DeLorean wouldn’t be as cool as it seems.
Not All Bad
If I had stayed married, I think I would have been stuck in mediocrity. I have since remarried a wonderful woman, who has been great for me and my daughter. She has brought out the best in me and has kept me on the straight and narrow. She has helped me make some tough decisions that have turned out well for all of us. I have everything I need and more. After going through some dark times, I look forward to life getting back on track and settling down as I look to glide into retirement (in 20 years).
On second thought, excuse me while I go fill the flux capacitor on the DeLorean. Not sure I can wait 20 years to retire. I must go back in time to create Facebook and Google.