01 April 2013

What might have been

Yesterday I found an old note from a boy I once loved. Still love, really. Differently.

It wasn't a love letter. It wasn't spectacular or awesome or particularly poetic. It was a simple note from a friend. About a friendship; a shared experience.

And it made me bawl.

Just for 30 seconds. But it was so sudden I was taken completely by surprise at my own emotions. Why did this strike me so powerfully? Why was I so overwhelmed in that moment? Was I sad? Nostalgic? Happy? I think it was all of those things really. But not quite any of them. Reading that note in simple black ink on plain sheets of lined yellow paper, I was completely engulfed, for those few seconds, in the possibilities that existed then that have since passed me by. I was suddenly back in a place that I have left. A time that is completely gone. And with it have disappeared moments and opportunities and potential that were very real for me then. Things that once could have been, but now will never be.

It's not sad, really. It's not a bad thing that life moves forward and some possibilities fade from view. There are always others that move in to take their place. The old cliche, one door closes and another door opens. True enough. Usually. A forgone opportunity is not the end. Some other hopeful potential will find its way into your life.

But still.

Not all doors are the same. Not every possibility is comparable. It would be ridiculous to weigh the un-happened of the past to the not-yet-occurred of the present. The hypothetical can only be imagined and predictions are dangerously unreliable. Yet, while knowing the reality of those possibilities is beyond our reach, it is easy enough to see that the outcomes would have been different. For good or bad. Better or worse. Every "might have been" is an unknown road into a life you will never lead. And while it is important to embrace the present and the opportunities we do have, here and now, perhaps there is nothing wrong with mourning, for a moment, from time to time, the little things that have slipped away. That have moved from the realm of potential into that of unreality.

And sometimes, it's just good to really cry.