It's funny. I look at my life today, and I'm awestruck at how drastically different it is from the imaginings of my youth.
I thought I'd be married forever. I'm divorced and about to start a 2nd chapter with Natalie. I never wanted kids. I now have a 16-year-old soon-to-be stepdaughter who has stolen my heart. I once was a Christian broadcaster. I now host one of the most listened to atheist radio shows in the world. I used to give my devoutly-religious parents great pride. I now give them migraines. I used to take great satisfaction in having the answers. Now, I find greater satisfaction in asking the questions.
How did this happen? The apple not only fell far from the tree, but it grew (evolved?) little apple legs and walked completely out of the orchard.
Our lives are marked by change. Every moment brings a potential butterfly effect that might spin us in toward a previously unforeseen destination (or open a door so that we might walk there ourselves). It's not destiny or the product of a Plan, but the result of acting and interacting in a cause-and-effect world.
And as the years bring experience and perspective not afforded to youth, my middle-aged self (Seth 2.0) can don his bifocals and see a broader, more complex, more interesting portrait of life than his younger counterpart could.
Yeah...I've changed. But change is a part of life. It is a constant. It happens in big ways and minuscule ways. It is sometimes within our control, and sometimes totally out of control. It adds shades of color to our lives. It keeps us on our toes. It pushes us in new and sometimes uncomfortable directions. It thrills us. It devastates us. Sometimes, it leaves scars. Other times, it is the balm which cause the scars to fade.
Change molds us, and it allows us to mold ourselves.
It's true that I'm more cynical than the wide-eyed kid of my formative years, and I'm guilty of sometimes mourning the loss of the carefree, cocky, self-assured invincibility of youth.
But almost immediately, I'm reminded that the person I see in the mirror is the result of hard-won decades upon this earth: less arrogant, less self-centered, more compassionate, less patient with injustice and lies, more seasoned, more mature, more conscious of the preciousness of life than the naive, brash, impatient boy of long ago.
My life isn't what I'd planned. It's much, much better.
Sometimes, I'd like to time-travel back for a conversation with my young self. I wouldn't spoil the surprises. I'd just wink at him and say, "Hang on. You're in for one Hell of a ride."