The Roads Not Taken

#life choices

I have tried a lot of things in my life. I’ve done everything from working at fast food joints to managing several offices. I’ve worked in retail, marketing, advertising, veterinary, and management. Over the years, I got fickle. After a few years in Corporate America I’d yearn for a life in the country. A few years mucking pens and hauling water by hand, and I’d look nostalgically at my old city life where everything was done for me by someone else.

Through the years, I’ve taken up painting, pottery, gardening, animal husbandry, writing, blogging, and even miniature furniture making. I’m a voracious reader of history, science, and DIY. I’m a loyal assistant to Greg who has taught me about fixing machines, woodworking, and building entire buildings from scratch.

Still there are things I’ve never done that I wish I had.

I regret not becoming a veterinarian. I even had a grand old man (the vet I worked for) offer to sponsor me at Texas A&M University. But I was young and newly married. I couldn’t see myself leaving my husband so soon to continue my education miles away.

I wish I could’ve become an archeologist. I love the science of archeology. The hunt for the elusive. I absorb stories about digs and live their adventures vicariously.

Finally, I wish I could’ve become a fine art restorer. I hate to see beautiful things disintegrate to time. I want to save them.

While I don’t have enough years left to become a veterinarian or an archeologist, art restoration could be doable, if only there was some place I could learn that trade. I did a cursory sweep of the net and the only places that offered courses were in DC, New York, and the UK. That’s a little far and too costly an endeavor.

It wouldn’t even have to be an additional university degree. I’d be happy just learning the trade from someone else. I’m not looking so much for a second career, but rather adding to my skill set and doing something useful.

Art restoration is more than repainting lost pieces of a painting or putting together shards of an old pot. It’s science and a lot more hidden history than people realize. So often we’ve forgotten the chemistry that went into creating that piece in the first place. It’s all about solving the mystery and reconstructing what was lost.

One of my minors at university was art history. We had a professor who terrified her students (including me), but it turned out I had a natural affinity for the subject. I was one of her favorites, a rarity since she seemed to prefer the company of virile, young men. I think she liked me because I didn’t parrot what she taught. I actually did research and tried to flesh out what other historians had left out.

Had there been a need for art historians, I would’ve gladly taken that job. Maybe that’s why I wish I could restore art. It’d be a chance to reunite with one of my passions and use my mad painting skills. 🙂

How about you? What do you wish you could’ve done but never did?

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20 Comments

  1. Loved reading this, for the I stayed long enough I should have taken the offered paid course would have been chef, I worked long enough in that kitchen that I should have taken their offer to go down, take the X amount of time in the school, put my hours back in at the kitchen, they offered to pay for it and I ended up working there for the years needed. I however never wanted to be full time for the rest of my life on the cooking line.

    On the I should have done it, o that one is a simple one.. I should have continued in my choice of running a camera. I ran a program on the school and got to the point I worked with shaw cable channel in alberta, Canada and I was good..

    I should have continued on with it but my family did everything they could to talk me out of it, they pushed really hard for me to go into “real” work.

    Of course with age, I can see now that it was a combo of they never felt that I was “good” and was just playing around with it, it was arts and therefor looked down on. I mean I was leads in plays and I went to the highest programs possible (paid for by skill) that they never ever saw me in.

    They never wanted me to reach high enough that I would leave the area far enough to not be able to come home for sunday dinner.

    Didn’t work out so well for them, as I left the province in my mid 20’s and I will never be back, and while I do a number of things with my camera, both still’s and video.. I will never make a career of it in the way I could have..

    I have taken a number of vet tec courses as its very useful in terms of working with my critters on the farm.

    • Val: My family was the same way about art school. I paid for night classes when I was under their roof, but I didn’t get my degree until I married.

      Families mean well, but sometimes they can’t see that passions can also drive a person to success.

      I think you would’ve been a fantastic chef, and you’re certainly a gifted photographer. Either road would’ve taken you far.

  2. I mean… You could still become a veterinarian, honestly. 😉 Although doing it back then with someone else willing to pay your way definitely would have been easier! My best friend is a veterinarian, and her help/knowledge of the years has certainly been invaluable. It’s the next best thing to ME being a vet!

    One of my biggest non-regrets is not pursuing a college degree. My husband and I certainly would not be where we’re at now if I’d had school debt to add into the equation. He has a hands-on job that doesn’t require a degree (heck, he only has a GED) that he enjoys, and I don’t need a degree to write. We wouldn’t be in a house, and probably would be relying on bicycles/the TERRIBLE public transit here if I’d been paying back student loans. I have too many friends I can look at to know what my life would be like if I had to add student debt into our current equation.

    The one thing I really, really, really wish I would have done is put my foot down before I got married and moved out of my parents house. Not even necessarily to move in with my now-husband, but just to get out of that house and the toxic environment of verbal and emotional abuse. I’m still uncovering how all those years there affected me, and I wish I’d gotten out sooner. I think I would have known myself better if I’d lived on my own for a while before I got married.

    • Rebekah: This is why I enjoyed being a vet tech so much. I got all the benefit of the vet’s knowledge without having to spend years at school. It gives me the advantage of knowing when I can treat something myself and when to ask for professional help.

      re: student debt
      That’s a sore spot with me. I think so many kids are brainwashed into thinking they need a degree when they don’t even have a clue on what they plan to do with their lives. The other side of that coin are the people who take useless degrees and then complain they can’t find jobs.

      re: moving out
      I hear ya! My parents were fine, but I could not stand being in a house with so many people. I like my privacy and independence. I planned to leave as soon as I was 18. I even had an apartment lined up. Then Greg asked me to marry him, so that was that. 🙂

  3. You can learn how to do things by just reading a book on the topic. You don’t always need the guidance of a university to learn so take a stroll and discover fine art restoring. Who knows what path it will take you down.

    Sometimes it’s fear that keeps us from doing what we really want to achieve.

    I’m not sure I have any regrets or things I wish I would have done differently because I live for today, learn from the past and move forward with hope.

    I really try to enjoy where I’m currently a, it’s not always easy but I find things happen for a season and then sometimes out of no where something new can transpire that I never even thought about before.

    Take our tiny community project for instance. When Robert first told me he wanted to do this, I thought he was crazy. Told him so actually… But as I began preparing and am now actually living Tiny it has been a life changing experience. I can’t imagine living any other way.

    Now where I realize it’s not for everyone but because I gave it a chance and pushed fear aside I learned by moving forward it was suppose to be a part of my path, my life and I’m grateful…

    • Carole: I do have books on restoration, but it’s only half the education. I need the practical application best done under the scrutiny of a master so I don’t accidentally ruin something.

      re: tiny community
      It takes a lot of faith to take on a project like this. And you had a lot of faith in your husband which says much about both of you.

  4. I don’t think that I really regret not taking any of the roads along the way. If I had, I might not have my wonderful husband and loveable son! But I do wish that I had been more open minded about a lot of things, and I wish I had been more accepting of other people along the way. It has been more recently in my life that I’ve tried to see things from other peoples’ perspectives more.

    I think we are all a work in progress…and we are all great just the way we are too. 🙂

  5. Mike Keyton

    Paths not taken:
    Ships cook,
    A chance to go a Masters in McGill Canada but lacked the funds
    A chance to stay on in New York with a permanent job (but then I wouldn’t have met Bernadette)
    Developed more as a musician
    Successful author
    I need five more lives at least

    • Mike: I know. I often tell Greg that I hope there is reincarnation because I have a lot more stuff to do that I didn’t get to do in this life.

      Of course, he’s doomed to follow me to the next life too cuz that’s what soul mates do. 🙂

  6. I’ve always wished I’d lived on my own a couple years before I got married. I went from living with my parents to living with my husband. Both were happy, safe, loving environments but… I still wonder what it would be like to be all on my own.

  7. ANGELA L BROWN

    Although I’m grateful for the path I’ve taken, I sometimes wonder if I could have done something more with my interest in lingustics or perhaps done more to get into voice acting.

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