A Great Many Things

As a follow-up to my last post (not that it needs a follow-up, just that I don’t have anything new), I’ve been thinking about exactly what other things I wish I were doing, and whether or not they are things I could still do.

Which leads me to one of my favorite movie quotes… From maybe my only favorite non-funny movie to quote:

Mr. Mayer:    You should have been a lawyer, Miss March.

Jo:    I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer.

(Little Women)

I think, in part, it’s not just the line, but the way she delivers it- smiling, and not without confidence, but graciously and… there’s a touch of sadness.

I should have been a great many things.


It does not align with the “live with no regrets” mentality, but I’ve never pretended I was capable of that anyway. I’ve regretted, deeply. But, I’d like to hope that’s made me more aware of how I wanted to live going forward.

I think it is human nature to reflect on our path- to look at our choices, accomplishments, and shortfalls, and wonder if we’re doing things right. There are an equal number of days that I’ve wished I’d gone into medicine and that I’d gotten an MFA in Creative Writing. That I’d become a doctor, and an artist. But there have also been so many days that I’ve been happy to be a teacher, or to have traveled and lived in the places I have.

And perhaps technically nothing is off the table. Stranger things have been done. But (to pull another quote) “knowing how way leads on to way”, it’s not likely.

In fact, hell, let’s throw that whole poem in. It’s brilliant, and I loved it long before I ever really understood it.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost
I may or may not have included this in my resignation letter to my principal. I’m sure he appreciated it, being that it was not at all cliché, and mostly because boys love poetry and metaphor.
Most people probably reach a certain age and feel that they should have been a great many thing. Whether the obstacles were real or imagined, self-imposed or completely out of our control, we end up on a different path than what we imagined, professionally, personally, or otherwise.
If I am so fortunate as to end up one day old and on my deathbed looking back over my years, I would like to hope that the thoughts that I return to won’t be things like “Why didn’t I put the effort in to be a straight-A student?” or “Why didn’t I work in a better paying field?”
I think with all the “I shoulda been’s” as long as it’s not “I should have been a better person,”  the rest will be okay.

cat in glasses

Why a cat in glasses? Because Richard Parker is wise beyond his years. His only “Shoulda Been” is ‘Tiger.’


~ by Lindsey on December 10, 2013.

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