Sunday, August 21, 2022

Choices at the Crossroads

Just finished listening to Emma Straub’s This Time Tomorrow, an intriguing premise about someone who time-travels back and forth between her 40th birthday and her 16th birthday and begins to make choices in the 16th that will affect the 40th

Now there’s a good conversation starter! What choices have you made that led you to your present life, crossroad moments in which a different choice would have led you to a quite different life that you will never know about? 


I arrived at five such choices that all took place in a short two-year span between 1973 and 1975. I’m fully aware that they’re of no interest to anyone else, but set them down here as examples that might lead you to your own reflection. As follows:


Winter, 1973— My Antioch College Co-op job was at a Quaker boarding school with some 30 Middle School kids in the North Carolina Mountains. I fell in love with the setting, the work, the kids and one of the teachers and was convinced that I would return after graduation to live the rest of my life there. Concerned that the first-year Head of School was being weird with the kids (and he did later get called out for child-abuse), I joined the half of the faculty that wrote to the Board and suggested they investigate. They did decide to fire him, but worried about these radical hippy teachers bold enough to speak out when they saw injustice, the new Heads did not invite me back to teach. Which is how I ended up choosing to go to San Francisco and see what life awaited me there. Had I not spoken out or they had not felt threatened, I might still be tucked away in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. 


Spring, 1973— My last semester of classes at Antioch, I signed up for an intriguing class titled Introduction to Orff Schulwerk by a guest teacher named Avon Gillespie. Had I not made that choice, who knows, I might have encountered the Orff approach later with someone else, but it most certainly would not have been the same. That class literally changed my life and hard to imagine who I would have been without it.


Summer, 1973— My last quarter at Antioch had me touring Europe with a choir singing 15th Century Masses. That not only set the tone for a life time of travel and music, but marked the beginning of my first journal, a discipline still alive and well almost 50 years later. Unlike the previous two, I can imagine my life without having taken that particular trip— I probably would have traveled later and begun writing journals— but nevertheless, it was a powerful, memorable and significant couple of months. 


Fall, 1974— In the Fall of 1973, I moved to San Francisco, spent a year knocking about with small jobs accompanying dance classes, teaching piano lessons, volunteering to teach music classes at progressive schools and starting up a Renaissance Choir with a friend. In November of that year, I was “dating” two of the sopranos in that choir, Susanne and Karen. In that time of “free love” and youthful naivete, we thought it fine to have ongoing multiple relationships. But eventually it seemed clear that one had to choose and for a variety of reasons (including Susanne returning to Antioch to finish her studies), I went with Karen, who later became my wife. A big crossroads moment. Everything would have changed if I had chosen differently. 


Spring, 1975— Amongst the many karmic unfoldings that happened with Karen was her introducing me to The San Francisco School, telling me about an Orff training there that I was allowed to attend which led to me replacing an incompetent teacher for one class which led to a job offer to teach music. I was poised to teach for pay next year at the Rivendell School where I was volunteering and still have the journal with the two side-by-side columns about pros and cons of each choice. I chose The San Francisco School and yet again, an enormous crossroads moment which would have changed everything.


So there is was. Five choices that led me to the life I’ve known that I can’t imagined not having lived. My kids, my grandkids, my 45 years at The San Francisco School, my life of international travel teaching Orff Courses, my journal writing that grew to articles that grew to books and so on and so on and so on. I will never know what other wonderful or less-wonderful things might have happened had any one of those choices been different, but I can say with conviction that if someone offered the time-travel to go back and change any of them, I wouldn’t. Not for an instant would it cross my mind. 


What are your crossroad moments? What would you change if time-travel presented the possibility? Write it down and then talk about it at the next party, family gathering or staff meeting when the conversation sags. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.