40 is approaching me with alarming speed.
I've never been one to dwell in the past, or spend much time pondering "what-ifs", but over the past few years as 40 gets closer, I have found myself reflecting on what I suppose could be considered sentinel moments in my life.
During my undergrad, I decided to take a summer job that ended up switching my intended career plans onto a completely different track. Not sure what I would have ended up doing if I hadn't taken that job.
How would things have turned out if I had decided to throw caution to the wind and pack myself off to McGill to do my Masters instead of staying at U of A? One of the reasons I chose not to go to McGill was funding. McGill didn't fund MSc students, but at U of A, I could get funded as a grad student.
After I finished my Masters degree, I spent a few months doing sysadmin work and being the resident computer geek for a couple of departments at the U of A Hospitals. I got a call asking me if I was still interested in a residency position in Detroit that to this day I still I don't remember applying for. I moved to Detroit with nothing more than a couple of suitcases and a few hundred dollars in my bank account and spent three years there learning my craft. It was arguably the biggest leap my normally conservative and safe self has ever made so far. Where would I have ended up if I didn't move?
A few years ago, shortly after starting this blog, I had a chance to take a research position at Duke University. I decided to stay. It would have switched me to a slightly different track had I taken it.
A few months ago, I decided to pursue an opportunity to do a PhD. It's not something that's necessary for me to do my job, but has been on my TODO list for a long time. In a couple of months, I should be starting classes. The voices in my head that say "WTF are you doing!" are getting a little louder, but I'm still looking forward to this. It's going to be a big shift for me for the next 5 or 6 years.
I've never regretted any of the decisions I made. Looking back, I don't know that there were really any other decisions that I could have made. If I had, I'm pretty sure my life would quite different from what it is now.
When I find myself in these moments, I can't help but think of this scene from The Matrix: Reloaded:
Neo: Well, that didn't go so well.
Morpheus: Are you certain the Oracle didn't say anything else?
Trinity: Maybe we did something wrong.
Neo: Or didn't do something.
Morpheus: No, what happened, happened and couldn't have happened any other way.
Neo: How do you know?
Morpheus: We are still alive.