Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Great Escape

It doesn't happen all the time. Just once in a while—usually in an airport or a train station.

During my morning commute, I get off the GO train at Union Station. I walk through the VIA train terminal to get outside, so I can see the travellers waiting with their luggage, the electronic signs glowing with departures for this destination or that. People milling about, talking, laughing, checking their phones, buying coffee.

And for a moment, I think: what if I just got on one of these trains and took off somewhere? I'd never do it, of course. But the temptation is there. And it's even stronger in an airport, with its more exotic destinations: Cairo or Bangkok or Sydney.

I'm starting to understand why people have mid-life crises. Because when you hit a certain age, you start to compare the life you have to the one you could have had. And no matter what you've done (or not done), when you measure yourself by your own idealistic expectations, you're bound to find something lacking.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm extremely grateful for what I have. At 39, I have a caring husband and two beautiful girls. A comfortable house in the suburbs with a pool and a hot tub. A lucrative job and a strong professional career. Not too shabby, really.

But there's a small part of me that wonders: this daily routine of rushing to work and rushing home, school lunches and laundry and swimming lessons, bathtime and bedtime and falling asleep myself with the kids when I put them to bed just so I can get up and do it again this it? 

What kind of life would I have if I'd done things differently? What if, instead of getting married and having kids, I had decided to travel the world, or move to Paris and try to write a novel? What would it be like to be untethered? Would my life be more adventurous? Would I be more willing to take bigger risks for greater possibilities?

I'm not naive; I understand the grass is always greener. I feel guilty for even thinking about it, as though I'm subtly jinxing my good fortune.  

I may wonder sometimes about paths not taken. But the truth is, though I've made my share of mistakes, if I had the chance to do things over again, it's not the big things I'd do differently. I'd probably be wondering about the exact same issues—just from the other side.

The eastbound train arrives, and people rush to get on it. The moment passes. And I keep walking.

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