Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Encyclopedia Brown Taught Me

Did you ever read those Encyclopedia Brown books when you were growing up? I loved those books. It sent me a life long addiction to mystery novels, scary movies and television shows like CSI, Cold Case and many more shows too numerous to name here. I was thinking this morning as I hurried to get ready how life is sort of like an Encyclopedia Brown story. If you have never read these books, you would read a few pages then make a choice in order to solve the mystery de jour. Each choice lead you on a different sort of adventure and hopefully you would solve the case.

Randomly I started doing this for myself. Here some of things I thought of:

*What if my Oma did not leave her first husband in the US and return to The Netherlands to marry my Opa?

*How would my life look if my father never drank a moment in his life? If his father lived past the age of 40?

*How would life be if my parents decided two children was enough? (OMG NONE OF THE REST OF THIS WOULD FOLLOW!?!?!)

*What would life have been like had my parents decided to stay in Clifton Park NY versus moving us all to San Jose?

*What would have happened if my mom choose to keep me in Erickson (the public school I went to 1st through 3rd grade) versus sending me to St. Mary's (the Catholic school I hated attending but realized really changed my life in many ways MANY years after the fact)?

*What is I decided to ride horses rather then swim? Or quit both things all together?

*What if I chose to attend Presentation (all girl's private school in San Jose) versus Leland HS (the public school down the street from my house)?

*What would have happened if I chose not to drink that first time when I was 15 trying to be cool for older cute boys I was hanging out with at the time?

*How would my life have changed had I decided to stay in CA after my freshman year of college to attend San Jose State or Cal State Hayward rather then flying across the country to Northern Michigan University?

*What if I chose to go to Northern CO instead of NMU (I was THAT close to doing it...)?

*What is I had not met my friend, Michelle, my freshman year at Cal State Hayward? (She totally changed my life!)

*What if I did not take the chance to go to an after bar party with Christine that crazy night after the Shamrock?

*What if I decided to be unsocial and not go visit Annie when she became the assistant swim coach at NMU when I got back to NMU to do my Master's degree in 1997?

*What if I decided Jen was too young to hang out with? Or Betsy Kay who ultimately told me to leave the crappy BF and move on?

*What is I chose to stay home that fateful night taking antibiotics and being sick rather then go out and meet my future (drunk) husband at the Shamrock? (Betsy is also the reason I went out that night... she was VERY convincing!!)

*How would things have turned out if Kevin and I decided that Canada and the US did not mix? That we should not take a leap of faith and move into together when he played hockey in Indianapolis?

*What would have happened had I never interviewed and been rejected by the nice people at Indiana University Foundation? And in the same vein, what if the person I interviewed with at IU never passed my name along to Ann where I currently work?

*What if we never took Matthew to swim class at the YMCA?

There were more and this a lot. I am amazed by the amount of 'Y's' in life's road. We make choices every single day. Some seem so tiny, so small that I wonder how can that have changed the other choices or pathways. Others are huge. If I did not go to Northern I would have never met some great friends nor my future husband. Or would I have? I mean was it destiny to meet those people. Would the forces have come together in some other way that would have allowed me to know these people? If I never met Kevin would I have a little boy like Matthew but with someone else? Where would I live? What would I be doing?

I always think of that Seinfeld episode where there is alternate world with Jerry et al. How weird it was to see how they could be if they were nice and not so catty, vulgar and out there!

It is the what if's, the how could it be's, the hmm should I choose to do this today or not? I often say thank you or smile or say a kind word to someone without thinking but some times I will think about it after. How someone else's kind smile or warm greeting made me feel better. Looking back the reason I liked Encyclopedia Brown so much had to do with the fact that he taught me about choices even small ones can lead to solve the mystery or not.

I do like the idea that each choice I make has a ripple, an effect on the world around me and not because I think the world revolves around me but because it keeps me aware. It keeps me in the now, loving each moment, trying to understand how I can be a better person for the greater good of others. That is the adventure of life for me. This is where all those points above have lead me. There is no going back to change those things, just the amazement that some how they all worked out in the end!

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