Up & Coming Weekly

December 29, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM DECEMBER 30, 2020 - JANUARY 5, 2021 UCW 5 OPINION MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. What if I had ... by MARGARET DICKSON WFAYcountry.com WFAY is Fayetteville's 100.1% Christmas Station. All Christmas…All The Time through the holidays. Merry Christmas from our family to yours Jeff and Christy "Sweet Tea" Andrulonis e advent of a new year always brings hope, and Lord knows, 2021 does that. It is hard to imagine a worse year than 2020 on so many counts. It brought us a literal plague as well as a political plague like none other in our nation's history. For many, a new year also triggers a sort of nostalgia, a feeling of what if I had taken a different path, made a different decision at an earlier time in my life. What would my life be then? When I was a young child, my grand- mother told me the story of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the "new world" in August 1587 on Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina. Virginia disappeared along with her parents and the rest of the colonists, while her grand- father, the head of the expedition, went back to England for supplies. When he returned three years later, the only sign of the Virginia or anyone else was the word "Croatan" carved onto a post. Young Margaret was convinced that only she could find the answer to this centu- ries-old mystery and was haunted by it for years. It did not help to meet an elemen- tary school classmate actually named Virginia Dare, a fact that produced intense envy. It does not help now that historians still do not know what happened to baby Virginia and the others, and I still wonder about them. We all ask ourselves our personal ver- sions of "what if." What if I had gone to Hollywood? What if I had married some- one else? Who would those unborn chil- dren have been? What if I had taken the left fork instead of the right? Writing in the New Yorker magazine, Joshua Rothman asks, "What If You Could Do It All Over Again: e uncanny allure of our unlived lives." It is a complicated, magical, and very human read. It asks questions we have all asked ourselves. Writes Rothman, "We have unlived lives for all sorts of reasons: because we make choices; because society constrains us; because events force our hand; most of all, because we are singular individuals, becoming more so with time." It seems to me that who we become and what we do are mostly our own choices, both planned and unplanned. We choose where we go to college and with whom we associate. If we work hard enough or if we are lucky, we choose what work we do. ese choices naturally preclude others. We do not choose to be in a car crash or have a heart attack, although those events may shape or even change our lives. COVID-19 was not on anyone's radar for 2020, but it has surely changed our lives in ways we have yet to know. Students may be behind because of the pandemic, and millions of us may work from home per- manently, changing both our workplace and social relationships. Millions of us will have to rebuild from our economic ashes through no fault of our own. Alexander Graham Bell is credited with saying, "when one door closes, another opens," and there is truth in that. It is also true that the road narrows as we go through life. A child has a horizon of open doors, but his parents not so many. ey have already begun closing some doors even by having a child, but their joys in parenthood will expand. As we bid a relieved farewell to the hor- ror that has been 2020 and turn to face 2021, we feel both trepidation and hope. Will we make the right choice when a door opens? As our path narrows, will we seize and embrace the opportunities we do have? From my vantage point in life, I know that I will not be a famous movie star or an Olympic athlete, and I am by and large content with my life choices and am hopeful for the future. I may even solve the mystery of Virginia Dare. Celebrating a new year often triggers a sort of nostalgia, a feeling of what if I had taken a different path or made a different decision at an earlier time in my life.

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