On Wondering Why We Didn’t Do What We Wanted To Do – or The Ken Burns Effect

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On Wondering Why We Didn’t Do What We Wanted To Do, or, The Ken Burns Effect

And in between what might have been and what has come to pass….”

So last evening I watched a DVRed documentary on the last days of the US in Vietnam. Rory Kennedy directed it and did a superb and even-handed job. (I lived through those weeks, but was obviously so caught up in the drama of my own life, that the true spectacle half a world away washed over me without a ripple.)

And I thought as I watched, that’s what I should have been — a documentarian. Yes, if I had done that, well, my life would have been….and you can fill in the blanks.

Don’t we all do this? Something catches our eye, or our heart, and we think “Well, I could have done that with my life. Yes, that’s what I wanted to do.” And then we wonder.

Is it retrospection that causes this? For if we really wanted that, why didn’t we just do it? The act of looking back, all those “opportunity costs” (sorry, a throwback to my MBA days) take on a sepia hue, romantic in fantasies of only the congenial parts, without the all-too- often-experienced downsides of real life.

It will soon be ten years since I left the world of paid employment. What I’ve gained is freedom; what I’ve lost is the excuse of saying “if only.” Now all those “ifs” are up to me.

So, if I want to be a costume designer, or documentarian, or historian, or talk show host (no, really, I’m over that one), it is up to me to pursue it, or indulge in an enjoyable fantasy with no regrets. Most likely it will be the latter.

For this is what I was – a relatively successful business woman in an age where professional, nay, all women in the world of work had a pretty rough go of it. I believed that I had to be hard-as-nails, the proverbial “bitch in high heels.” It was a costume that I donned willingly, and it wasn’t until it far into the game that I realized just how heavy a burden that armor was. Ten years ago I shed it. I have never looked back.

Another Sunday, http://www.cynthiastrauff.com

 

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