Ruminating On Paths Taken And Not Taken

Today the BC Supreme Court released a decision which finds changes made to the collective agreement with teachers in British Columbia, specifically those around class size and composition, unconstitutional.  In addition, the court awarded the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) $2 million in damages which the provincial government must now pay.

That’s what I should probably talk about today given my role in BC’s public education system, but there are too many unknowns at this point, including the government’s response, and I don’t have enough details for an informed comment.

Not that I have answers to the other topic which I’ve been pondering.

George Bernard Shaw famously said, “Youth is wasted on the young” and we often hear the phrase, “If I only knew then what I know now.”

In a similar vein, I’ve thought of this:  there is no undo/redo.  

Computer programs have undo/redo, commands that allow us to zip back and forth in our work or our game to the point before we made an error or made a choice which we no longer support or chose a path which has not led us to the desired outcome.

In life, however, there is no undo/redo.  As much as people advocate for a philosophy of “no regrets” I think that’s simplistic and difficult to apply in our own lives.


Venetian Mirrors

Because if we are honest with ourselves, there are regrets.  We recognize points along the way where we made choices which were not good ones or decisions which didn’t play out the way we hoped they might or where we passed up an opportunity which, with hindsight, we think may have worked out better although there’s never any guarantee it would have.

I also think the idea of living in the moment, while it has merits, is not the answer either because we are not creatures of the moment:  we have a past that has shaped us and we have a future which beguiles us.

The question becomes how to reconcile ourselves with our choices and with their outcomes.

It’s difficult to do when we hit those bumps in the road where each and every decision is up for evaluation.  Where the “what-if” game becomes the one haunting us in the present.  Where our confidence and our understanding of who we are takes on the metaphorical aspect of a cannibal rat ghost ship.

And we’re lucky if we find our way before circumstances intervene to make a situation worse or to take the journey along life’s path out of our control.

And while there is no undo/redo, there is try which puts me at odds with Yoda, the Jedi Master in Star Wars.  With deference to the green sage, sometimes all we can count on is try.

Because without try, there is no possibility of change.

And change, according to ancient philosophies, is the only constant.


  1. Harriet on January 27, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Add the myriad of choice available today at every corner, and it’s easy to see why anxiety disorders are skyrocketing (but that’s more of a future thing)

    But acceptance is really the key. What’s done is done. This doesn’t mean you won’t have moments of “I just wish I’d” but with hard emotional work and acceptance, these thoughts will shorten in duration.

    I also find as I get older and … cough … presumabley wiser, I try not to stay in situations that aren’t working for me (once I’ve given them a solid effort), and move on.

    And … to ramble on, perhaps you can REDO (in a sense) if you failed to do something 20 years ago, maybe now is the time to do it…?!

    • RF on January 28, 2014 at 12:46 am

      Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. Yes, the myriad of choices is a complicating factor — sometimes I get overwhelmed just trying to choose a toothpaste let alone formulate a life plan! As to the redo, the 20 year-ago thought is what triggered this post. If I’d pursued my Masters and PhD when I first went to university, I might have been sitting on a 20-year career at this stage. But I didn’t and I may not have been. I’ve had many wonderful experiences and the chance to do many different things, but based on the work I’ve done as a TA, I feel teaching at post-secondary is what I’d like to do. However, that may entail a PhD and it also entails a lot of uncertainty because TA/Sessional positions are contract by contract and the prospects in Humanities appear to be dim. I’m uncertain about the way forward and thus back to my angst (which I realize is a very nice problem to have and so very first-world of me!).

  2. Harriet on January 28, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Oh I know – toothpaste AH! Seriously though, the number of times, I’ve decided that I want to pursue an MA? About once a year since I was 30, and everytime I thought – I’m WAY too old to do this! And so almost 20 years, later, I’ve done zilch. Ah! Help! I’m regretting things again.

    I do think knowing you passion – teaching at post-secondary inst is a GIGANTIC step in the right direction. So many people have no idea what they’d like to be doing…

    Keep on keeping on…

    • RF on January 28, 2014 at 3:58 am

      Thank you for your encouragement. And I will keep on keeping on. By the way, the SFU GLS MA is a great option for those returning to school at an, um, wiser age! 🙂 Check it out – the info sessions on the program are coming up I believe. It’s never too late. Right?

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