As you can probably imagine given the sorts of posts I’ve written so far, I’m a pretty introspective guy. One of the tracks that my reflections take on a fairly regular basis is what-if-I’d-turned-right-instead-of-turning-left? It’s not because I’m bemoaning the fact that this or that didn’t work out like I wanted it to or because I’m not happy with how things have turned out. It’s a way of realizing how different my life could have been and acknowledging to myself just how good I’ve got it.
It’s only in hindsight that you can see that things worked out for the best. I’ll give you an example. One that’s always fascinated me.
During the summer between Grade 2 and Grade 3, we moved from the city to an acreage about 30 minutes east. From a kid’s perspective, we left all our friends behind. We were going to a new school where we knew no one. We didn’t even know any of the kids that lived near the acreage. It ended up being a pretty lonely summer.
Due to space considerations, I’m going to be skipping great swathes of time and information here. Hopefully it’ll make sense.
One of the kids at the new school that I eventually became friends with was called Darren. When we were in Grade 10, Darren phoned me up one day and told me there was a new McDonald’s opening up in a nearby town and he invited me to go with him to apply for a part-time job after school. I did.
Starting work at McDonald’s, I met a guy called Kevin. And Kevin would have a huge impact on my life. Kevin was a wrestling fan and it was together that the two of us went to our first live wrestling show. And we went week after week after week. That totally fueled my ambition to wrestle.
A couple years later, after I’d quit McDonald’s, Kevin suggested we take a bartending course so we could get better jobs. Although he ended up not taking that course, I did and got a job working in a bar almost immediately after finishing the course.
One of the waitresses there was Sheila, who would eventually become my first wife. We had two kids together: Matthew and Ashley.
Kevin is still a part of my life today. He is, without a doubt, my best friend. And like I said, he’s had a tremendous impact on my life.
So, to summarize — because I went to the new school, I met Darren. Because I met Darren, I met Kevin. Because I met Kevin, I took the bartending course which resulted in my meeting my first wife and having two of my four kids. Remove any one of those events and my life would be completely different.
Well, that’s kinda neat and everything, you say… but surely that’s not “Post hoc, ergo, propter hoc.” (Latin for, “After it, therefore, because of it.”) And you’re right. By itself, this is just a sequence of events that can be explained away with a shrug.
But here’s the thing — when we lived in the city, my parents were part of a bowling league. Men would bowl one night. Women another. But they stopped when we moved out of the city. I must’ve told Kevin about that or maybe he saw one of my parent’s bowling trophies at the house.
One day back when we were about 20, he called the house and said his mom’s bowling team was in a tournament and short a person and desperately needed someone to stand in. Did I think my mom would come and bowl?
I asked. She said yes. My dad went with her to the bowling alley. When they got home I was astounded. My dad and Kevin’s dad used to bowl together in the league that my parents bowled in before we moved out to the acreage.
They knew each other before we moved out to the acreage.
Now, presumably my parents would have continued in that bowling league if we hadn’t moved. And since they already knew Kevin’s parents, it’s within the realm of possibility that whether we stayed in the city or moved to the acreage, I’d have met Kevin and we’d have become friends anyway.
So, you tell me. Is it still explainable by a shrug in your opinion? I’ll tell you what — it gives me goosebumps.