I often like to think of my life as a collection of turning points, many of which have brought me to amazing places and helped me to meet amazing people. In second year university, for example, I was kicking around campus one day and saw a poster advertising a Canadian university in France. All of a sudden I just knew I had to go there the next year.
The time between when I noticed the poster and applied to the school was a matter of days – I made the decision to apply quite quickly. But it turned out to be one of the best things I ever did – it changed my life forever. When I got to France the next year I met a boyfriend at the school who was from British Columbia (I lived in Ontario at the time), and I decided to move to BC the next year. Although the love affair with the boyfriend eventually ended, my move to Vancouver sparked a love affair with B.C. that has been part of my existence ever since.
I think back on that time and wonder how things might have turned out differently. What if I hadn’t seen the poster? What if I had seen the poster but never believed it was possible for me to actually go? Would I still be the same person I am today if I hadn’t have gone? I might not be. That turning point took me in so many incredible future directions that I never could have anticipated.
Fast forward a few years from that time in France and you would have found me walking with a friend on the waterfront area known as the Bund in Shanghai, China. We came across a group of young men – Canadians, by the look of them from their white dress navy uniforms – that looked lost. We struck up a conversation and we eventually went to lunch. A turning point? Most definitely! If we hadn’t have been walking at that particular time, on that particular day, I wouldn’t have met the man that eventually became my husband, and life would have certainly been very different. Who would I have married if I hadn’t been sent to China for work that summer? What turn would my life have taken if we had not stopped to chat, but walked on and never found out that they lived in British Columbia too?
If I sat down and analyzed my life so far I bet I would come up with millions of turning points. Millions of times that I made decisions and took paths and – happily – wonderful things came as a result. When I think of all the choices I’ve had in my life, and the opportunities that have resulted, I almost start to get a little dizzy. Turning points are presented to us every day, aren’t they? They become so many things – big and small – that make up our incredible lives.
On that note, I’ve always loved the ending of the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken”:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
It’s so hopeful isn’t it? It’s a good reminder to keep an eye open for those wonderful opportunities that can change your life from this point forward.
The reality is that we actually have many more than two roads to choose to travel in our lives, and going any which way down those roads always makes a difference in the kind of life we’re going to lead. So many choices, so many decisions to make and so many dreams to pursue. I hope that whichever way I choose to travel, I’ll continue to have a big, wide-open, wonderful life with lots of turning points. So far so good.