I have often wondered about opportunities in the past that have had a serious impact on my life. I have heard that when a door closes, a window opens. This is great, but what about conscious decisions I have made? I look at the window and door analogy as the result of external circumstances that happen for whatever reason, the decisions I have made are not external at all, they are surely influenced by external forces, but yet, they are my own decisions. There was a great movie in 1990 called Mr. Destiny in which Michael Caine explained to Jim Belushi how destiny worked. There are certain points in our lives where we come to a juncture, a fork in the road. Our lives depend on which direction we choose as events build upon each other which can lead to dramatically different results in our lives. In the movie, a baseball was indeed hit for a home run; the star became a hero, got married to the homecoming queen and became rich and powerful.
One of the major junctures in my life happened when I was 17. For years I had dreamed of becoming an architect, that was going to be the best job in the world for me and everything was lined up in order for that to happen. Then I turned 17. My dad was quite proficient in drafting as he was an electrical engineer so there were drafting boards and tools around the house, and every time I had a little project to do, there were multiple pages of documentation involved. This happened when the project might have been a single shelf. My favorite class in high school was drafting, for the first half of the semester we read a book on how to draw plans for a house. The last half, the teacher told us to get busy drawing a house of our own design. I still have that set of prints after all this time. So back to when I turned 17, I was graduating high school, I had a girlfriend, I had spent 12 whole years in school already, and I was 17 – I already knew all that I needed to know! I was accepted into the School of Architecture at the University of New Mexico, there was a chair waiting for me, then I decided that another 5 years of school would be too much so I did the next best thing, I joined the Army.
While that decision may not have been the smartest thing I have ever done, it wasn’t the worst either, not by a long shot. I do wonder sometimes how my life would have been different today had I taken that other path. I do have to realize that I would not be where I am now and you know what? I like where I am now. As far as that decision being a missed opportunity, I can look at it several ways, true, today I am not an architect, but I still have the drafting table and tools that I grew up with, and in my previous work, I ended up detailing some ductwork on the jobsite with my trusty drafting tools and a desk made out of boxes. My drafting background also got me a head start in my new line of work; I do 3D modeling on a computer. So while I never got the official stamp on an architect, I have received many of the benefits of being knowledgeable in the field.
There have been other junctures in my life, maybe not quite as dramatic or as easy to point out, but in hindsight I can see that certain actions absolutely do lead us on different paths and create a lifestyle of their own. What I try to do now is to be more flexible in my decision making, not everything has to be so absolute. And then there are times when I am almost convinced that the path I am taking is wrong when all of a sudden the goal presents itself in ways I had never dreamed of. So while I may have missed some opportunities, I have gained so much there is no way to compare what could have been as to what has been. Otherwise I would drive myself crazy!!