I’ve been thinking lately about how my life would be different had the children plan worked out, if I had made different choices, or had opportunities been open to me that never were. These lives that could have been, these are what Cheryl Strayed refers to as “sister lives”. The lives that never became a reality; the possibilities of what our life could have been had we chose the alternative or had circumstances unfolded differently. She explains that we can never know what those lives hold, that there is no comparison between them because we only know what is held within our reality. There is nothing to do but accept that those lives were not ours and live the life we have.
“We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” Cheryl Strayed
What I’ve noticed is that my relationship with these “sister lives” has changed significantly over the last year. I still have moments where I compare to what I imagine life would be like on those ghost ships, but I no longer live every moment peering into the horizon, seeing my entire life through the lens of “what-could-have-been”s. I’ve come to accept that those were the lives that will never be mine. They will always linger in the mist off the shores of my real life, always exist within my imagination just outside the perimeter of reality. I can acknowledge their presence as i bury my feet within the sands of my reality.
As I let myself sink into everything this life is, feeling the warmth and grittiness of the sand beneath my toes, a sense of peace washes over me. In this moment of clarity I realize that this is acceptance, and raise my hand effortlessly to salute the ships on my horizon.