Do you ever look back at your creative trajectory and wish you could have done things different? Followed a different path? Taken advantage of those opportunities that have passed you by? Do you find yourself ever wondering if you should have moved for that job, taken that gig, focused on youth literature instead of adult novels?
Years ago, I had an album that had made it on the radio in my home town. Even though I hadn’t been living there for a few years, it felt pretty good to hear that I was the Song Of The Day! So, I got a phone call one day from someone asking me if I wanted to be the opening act for a popular Canadian group that was going to be performing at the local theatre in two weeks. I was flattered, to say the least, but I also panicked. I hadn’t been planning on performing these songs out anywhere. I hadn’t been practicing. I didn’t think I could have a credible set ready in time so I respectfully declined the offer.
Now you might be saying, what was she thinking? That could have been her big break! Why did she turn it down?
Honestly, I can tell you what was going through my head but I don’t know if it made sense or not. It just made sense in the moment. I’m not gonna lie – It crosses my mind from time to time. Who knows what would have happened after that show? I could have become the pre-Taylor Swift. The show could have been a total disaster. My life could have become a total disaster even if the show itself was successful.
But here’s the thing. Regret doesn’t do us any good because we can’t change what happened. As the saying goes, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. We have to trust that we somehow made the right decision for ourselves. We followed the path we followed because it seemed like the best thing to do at the time so it doesn’t serve us to get down on ourselves about it.
We can’t redo the past but guess what? We can learn from it and create an amazing future. That’s what we do, right? We create stuff. And every day we are creating our lives for better or worse. There are still plenty of opportunities out there. There are plenty of gigs to play, plenty of places to move to. We can still evolve and change direction anytime we want to. We don’t have to stay stuck. As the saying goes, it’s not over until it’s over. And while, at my vintage, I’m not likely to become the ‘next’ Taylor Swift, that doesn’t mean I still can’t get out there and perform if I want to. There are plenty of household names that only gained their popularity in their forties, fifties, and beyond.
So, here’s a fun exercise.
When something doesn’t work out the way I intended or I decide not to do something, like go to a concert or other event, I sometimes imagine what awful things might have transpired if I had left the house. Especially when I see people’s Facebook posts about what a great time they had at said event. It kind of helps soothe my FOMO a bit.
So, why not look at all of the things that you regret not doing in your creative life – those choices that, when you revisit them, make you cringe and you wish you could go back and do them over – and write down all of the horrible things that could have happened if you had made those other choices? You know, you could have ended up hopelessly addicted to drugs, divorced from your spouse. Your private plane taking you to the Oscars could have crashed. Have fun imagining all the possibilities! 🙂
As you then review the carnage, you will hopefully realize that you don’t know what would have happened and, really, you could have it much worse than you do now. You may even be filled with a sense of gratitude that you didn’t take those roads. So, at the bottom of your list you can add, “Thank goodness I am where I am! Now I can create the awesomeness from here! “ , reminding yourself that every day is a chance to start over, a chance to make different choices and take new paths.
Have fun creating!
And in Swimming Tigress news, just a friendly reminder to the music teachers out there that fall is approaching fast and it’s time to look for some new repertoire for your young students. Why not check out my songbooks, Bad Moods and Brain Freezes , with songs that are as fun to teach as they are to learn. Available through this site and Sheet Music Plus!