OPINION | The view from the other life

What’s your ‘alternative life’?

You know – the one where you made a different decision at a crucial moment and set a whole other chain of events in motion.

Of course, we’ll never know (until the science types work out how to access alternate universes). But – as year 12 students await their marks and university offers – I like to speculate on what such an ‘other’ life might have looked like, at least in terms of work.

My go-to ‘if only’ job is that of a national park ranger, which is pretty funny if you’ve ever seen me try to set up a tent or even tie a rope.

I think it’s just the furthest thing from my desk-bound, wordy existence that I can imagine, which is appealing when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

Not as appealing on cold, wet days, though. I’m probably not cut out for a life of ongoing discomfort.

My other one is a doctor, which was my number one preference on my university application form – until the night before the deadline, at which point I realised that doctors probably shouldn’t be the kind of people who gag when they see someone’s warty feet or pustular rashes.

Nowadays I content myself with being that friend who likes to diagnose everyone’s illnesses: tell me a set of symptoms, I’ll come up with a hypothesis.

If I’m really into it, I’ll consult my ‘medical reference library’ (aka Google) and let you know how long you have to live.

The only time it really stings is when I compare the going hourly rates between doctors and journalists – ouch. But I wasn’t jealous when medical friends were doing their grueling residencies or horrific specialist exams.

Growing up and getting older, most of us realise that we’ll never get to be everything we imagined we might be. That’s okay – making choices means you necessarily close doors along the way.

But if one of those ‘alternative lives’ continues to compel – and time, money and energy permit – it could be time to step over to that parallel universe and see if you like the view from there.