Sunday, 10 October 2010


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about possibilities. This was brought on by a book I bought which discusses what happens to possibilities – all those things we could have done, but didn’t. Where do they go? Who would we be if we’d gone with that choice, rather than this one? With Eldest going through the process of choosing universities and courses of study for next year, it was very pertinent right now. All those ‘what ifs’ to consider

I often wonder who I would be if my family hadn’t come to Australia. As a child, my first choice of ‘what I want to be’ was a palaeontologist. I was hardly old enough to say it, let alone understand what it was, but nevertheless the idea of digging up history stuck with me and I turned into an archaeologist. I didn’t stay an archaeologist for long, but I think if we’d stayed in England, I would have. Australian archaeology doesn’t really discover a lot beyond a few stone tools and fireplaces and I couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life. Celtic and Roman remains however, would have been far more interesting. I still get a thrill when I read of ancient ruins being found, or bog burials.

I wonder if somewhere, in an alternate universe, there is another me pursuing that possibility that didn’t eventuate for the Kate in this universe? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not regretting anything. I’m extremely happy with where I’ve ended up. I just wonder.

Choosing between possibilities is another reason I like novel writing. I love mulling over the possible (usually horrible) things I could do to my characters. I love it when someone’s critiquing my work and suggest what they think is going to happen next, only to find in the next chapter that I’ve completely surprised them. I know the kids at school love those stories where they can choose the way a story goes, just by turning to a particular page. A story may start from a particular point, but there are so many possible directions it can go, it’s exciting.

Like life, really.


Clare said...

I read this post earlier in the week and it reminded me of my childhood ambition to be ... a palaeontologist! (I loved the word!)
For some reason, I was interupted and failed to post a response.
The following night I dreamt about the two books I had as a child that so shaped my ambition and they came to me clearly.
"So You Want To Be An Archaeologist?" which I bought with my pocket-money from Woolworths (12 1/2p)- a soft-jacket hobby book series with a blue band along the top. I can still picture it clearly.
The other was a paper-back colour-illustrated book I was given for my birthday (at my request) "How We Used To Live"
I was probably word-perfect from the number of times I read and re-read them. I was fascinated by the idea of digs and dating ...
Strangely, by the time I went to High School this ambition had given way to being a guide-dog puppy-walker and it never re-surfaced.
I'd forgotten all about it until I read this post. What if...?

Kate said...

A guide-dog puppy-walker? I can honestly say that occupation never got onto my list of possibles! I didn't have any palaeontology/archaeology books as far as I remember, but I devoured all those sorts of books from the library. I especially loved the ones that showed 'reconstructions'. The Viking Museum in York, when I visited, took me back to those books - there they were in 3D complete with sound and even smells! Yes, I could definitely have carried on with Archaeology if we'd stayed in England. If you'd stuck with your ambition too, maybe we would have met in some museum somewhere and discussed our findings? :)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I also wonder about the twists and turns in my life. The "what if's" and how I would have fared in different circumstances. These trains of thoughts fit well with being a writer.

Rena said...

Life is filled with "what ifs". :)

Laura Pauling said...

Possibility is always exciting. LIke a new move it's full of possibility - new everything - but the reality is usually much harder. Takes a few years for the possibility to pay off.