Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it: I love Garth Brooks. Well, I love his music. (Songs about having two pina coladas just speak to me, y’know?) I had plans to drive to Guelph at lunchtime today, so I made a new playlist for my iPod, as I am wont to do any time I have to drive anywhere longer than 20 minutes. As I am also wont to do, I tossed a little Garth into the mix. I have always loved “The Dance” and I believe I am not alone, since I think it is one of his most popular songs. The middle couple of verses go a little something like this:
Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance
I think those lyrics were written and recorded long before Garth admitted to cheating on his wife while out on tour, before the rumours that he was cheating again with Trisha Yearwood, before he ended up leaving his wife and kids to marry Trisha Yearwoods … and for all I know, they were written by a team of cunning songwriters who didn’t believe a word of it and just wanted to sell iTunes downloads to suckers like me. But, you know, it always makes me wonder if I would feel the same way, make the same choice, if I was given the chance to have a do-over. A mulligan for the crappy days or weeks or months of my life. A get-out-of-today-free card to cash in whenever I wanted. Would I cash it in?
Because, the thing is, I think I would. Cash it in, do it over again, put my ball back on the edge of the water hazard. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, that there is a benevolent God keeping an eye on things, that sometimes the crappy things can teach us stuff. But the crappy things still happen. And they’re crappy at times, agonizing at others, and when I look back on my life I can’t see a single awful thing that taught me enough to make it worthwhile to go through it all again if I was given the choice of opting out. Losing my grandfathers taught me that it’s awful to lose someone you love, even more awful when you’re an adult, but I don’t think that comes as a surprise to anyone. While working with dysfunctional, toxic, people and dreading going into a soul-killing job every day, I learned some valuable skills I’m using in my career right now, but really nothing I couldn’t have learned some other way. And hating university residence and feeling homesick for my family and resentful of all of the people around me having fun while I did homework and worked part-time and felt sad … didn’t really teach me anything.
I guess that’s a pretty short list. A remarkably short list, really, and for that I am grateful. I know I have been extremely blessed and I’m reminded of that every day, when I talk to or think about people I love who have had a much heavier load to bear. Maybe I am completely lacking the perspective necessary to say what I’d do. Maybe it shows immaturity on my part, and maybe I’m spending too much time thinking about words that came out of the mouth of a guy wearing a sparkly cowboy hat, but I think what I’d do is say to heck with the dance, give me my mulligan and no one gets hurt. I’d give anything to have my grandfathers back, I’d jump at the chance to rewind my life and go somewhere else for university, and I’d find another job somewhere, anywhere, else.
But I don’t, and I can’t, and I didn’t, and I’m left with a life filled with people I love, and a little black cat purring in my lap as I type this, a free coffee at Tim Horton’s whenever I exchange the little rim from my cup. And you know, it’s pretty awesome. Maybe it’s all about figuring out that what you’re left with at the end of the tunnel is usually enough. Sometimes more than enough.