I’m usually exhausted when I roll into bed after working literally morning (when production work comes in from our Mumbai production team), noon (as in, all day, when I work with Microsoft and at my agency office) and night (when I convey Microsoft’s wishes to our team for overnight production). By the time my head hits the pillow, my mind is mush and I want to either read a good book or watch a movie – and neither should make me think.
Last night when I turned on the TV, Family Man was on. I remember that I’d seen the movie at some point, I think on a flight years ago, but I didn’t remember details. As I recalled, Family Man was about a wealthy corporate workaholic who one day magically finds himself to be a tire salesman living in New Jersey with his high school sweetheart wife and two kids.
I figured this light-hearted movie would fit my “mindless entertainment” requirement, so I fluffed a pillow or two and settled in.
Ah yes… the formula is predictable but entertaining. Rich snobby man wakes up in his new “messy” life surrounded by his wife and kids on one of those lazy entire-family-in-the-bed mornings. He freaks out and tries to go back to his predictable Manhattan high-rise life, but is told by the angel who sent him on this freakish journey that he is being provided a “glimpse” and will just have to endure the apparent misery.
I’m getting sleepy at this point and I miss entire sections of the movie as I doze off. I wake up to Tom gently pulling the remote from my hands and kissing my forehead as he turns off the TV.
“No, wait,” I mumble. “He has to see that his choices…” And I drifted off again.
This morning, as I was getting ready for work I turned on the TV and there was Nicholas Cage the Family Man again (an obvious re-play of last night’s feature), only now he had settled into his married-with-children life and he was extraordinarily happy. He had fallen in love with his kids, with his non-profit attorney wife, and with his unpredictable, messy, middle-class life. And, predictably, it was now time for him to go back to his rich, single, corporate life – the one he loved so much before he got a “glimpse” of his other possible life, had he hade other choices.
I stood in front of the TV, riveted to the last 30 minutes of the movie as a lump formed in my throat.
Life choices. Forks in the road, taken. Saying yes. Saying no.
Had I done it right, I wondered? Had I made all the right choices? Did I want the Choice Angel to give me more choices, retroactively? (Ah, movies!)
The lump in my throat grew bigger as I stood in front of the TV half-dressed and mesmerized. It grew bigger because as I watched this Hollywood romantic comedy/soft drama, I realized beyond a doubt at the old age of 53, that I am completely, 100% satisfied with the major, life altering choices I’ve made in my life.
Most importantly, I know that I married the right man. Had I married anyone else and had Tom reappeared in my life 20 or 30 years later, I’d be prodding the Choice Angel to give me another chance so I could marry this man. As schmaltzy as it sounds, that realization turned the lump into a tear and I stood there, choked up and grateful for roads taken.
The little choices in life pretty much take care of themselves on a daily basis, but the Big Choices, the ones that can completely alter the course of one’s life, need more reflection and information, balanced with strong doses of trusted intuition. I’m glad that I wasn’t fully aware of the magnitude of those Big Choices when I made them (that’s just too much pressure!), but so grateful that they turned out to be the right ones.
Or maybe I’m just sure they’re the right choices because I lived them and made them the right choices. Maybe! But that’s too metaphysical for me right now because I have a to-do list a mile long and I have no choice but to work my way through it today.