Choices determine life’s path

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path through trees
Farm and Dairy file photo

Some paths presented to each of us as glorious opportunities turn out to be the road not taken, and often leave us wondering just what might have been.

How interesting it would be if we could defy reality and get a glimpse of how that one particular possibility would have played out. Instead, missing a meeting or asking for time to think on an offer suddenly becomes a ship that never sailed, for better or for worse.

Job offering

Years ago, my husband and I newly married, I was offered a job as editor of a rural newspaper in a lovely little town. It was so tempting to emphatically say “YES!” but some little voice in my head told me to ask for a bit of time to think it all through.

One of my new hubby’s first comments was, “I would worry every day — that would be a very long drive for you, especially in winter.”

With that thought in mind, we even connected with a real estate agent and found ourselves looking at properties in that area. Some were nice, others downright picturesque, and if I accepted this new position, would prove affordable.

Life’s path

All in all, everything about it appeared to be a great step up for us.

Dreaming of living in such a pretty place, with a new community to call home, began to seem mighty enticing. As so often happens in life, I can’t for the life of me remember what put the brakes on pursuing this path. I know I was exuberant and excited, filled with ideas for that newspaper, with the agricultural population of the area a very big part of my enthusiasm.

Dad’s love

I recall a conversation with my dad, who said he was mighty proud of this offer I’d received. Without a single negative word said, I could somehow sense that he had reservations. I remember making a call and asking if the interim editor could give me just a little more time to reach my decision.

At that time, I was helping with the evening milking when I finished my day at the newsroom, and my hubby and I often unloaded hay wagons in the summer because I knew Dad needed the help.

I think it was the love of the family farm — a love built and nurtured by my father — that, in the end, made all the difference.

Life choices

It goes without saying that in spite of our choices, life changes right under our feet. The days of being welcomed in the dairy parlor and the hay fields and barns were about to fade into a memory, though if I’d been told that then, I would have surely said that would never happen.

I passed on that editor’s position, and we stayed put.

Different path

Within a few years, I had two children, happily began writing for the Farm and Dairy, and enjoyed being a part of my home community. My nieces and nephews were a big part of my joy, and new friends my children made over the years came to mean a great deal to me, too.

I was often the driver for any of the kids who needed me, taking them to practice or after-school events, which helped build strong relationships that last to this day. I cooked extra if any kid showed up hungry and enjoyed baking favorites for happy events. Our home was a gathering spot and I loved every minute of it.

Revisiting the past

That newspaper I passed on? It went through tough changes, and I likely would have found myself in a pickle if we had uprooted ourselves, perhaps suddenly without a job. I believe I would have felt a bit homesick, and I would have regretted it deeply if I had not been able to spend a part of nearly every day with my dad before he died at age 63.

We humans wish so many times that we could see into the future, but that is not to be.

Blind faith, with a dose of sometimes subtle instinct, is what often determines the opportunities we choose to grab onto and those we let pass by.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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