We can never go back


If you really want to torture yourself, keep your email address linked with the house you used to own in a city where real estate is on a rapid upward trajectory. Once a week or so, you’ll get an update that tells you how much the value of your former home has increased, i.e. how much money you didn’t make because you sold when you did. Bless.

Yesterday, I finally (mercifully) cut the Zillow cord with the Shotgun, my old, charming, 11-foot wide, 600 square foot house in Denver. I loved that nest, and it was the perfect place for me to live for the years I spent there — but that season is over. I made a choice, which led to a decision tree of other choices, all of which ultimately led my life 900 miles away to Minneapolis.

The cruelest question in the world is “what if.”

And yet, we ask it all the time, don’t we? What if I had stayed? What if I had gone? What if I had said yes? What if I had said no? What if I had met that person, or not met that person, or met that person at a different time? What if I had never left my house in Denver and now was sitting on an 11-foot wide MOUNTAIN OF GOLD.

Dumb, all of it.

Asking “what if” keeps us stuck, mentally revising the past toward a future that will never actually be. It’s a waste of energy and a waste of heart. Like Joy Williams sings, “We can never go back, we can only go on and on and on.”

Real estate profits are the least of it — because that stuff doesn’t matter, really. It’s about owning your life, owning your decisions, blessing the good, and wrestling the bad (which, by the way, would exist no matter which path you would have chosen). It’s about seeing your story for the adventure that it is, and realizing that certain things aren’t up to you, anyway. It’s about knowing that it’s a privilege to have a choice at all.

If you struggle with feeling alone, or anxious, or frantic because life doesn’t look the way you imagined it would — well, me too. Keep going, though, because we can never go back. We might as well move forward, because who knows what might be up there?



  1. Leigh Kramer on June 11, 2016 at 1:01 PM

    Yes to all of this.

  2. Michael on June 11, 2016 at 2:25 PM

    What Leigh said, and we love you, dear sister. The Bug and I have been through the Valley of the Shadow too often, seen young life snuffed out and old familiar family and friends fade away. We’ve made our bed in some strange places, and chosen not to rest in what seemed to be very green pastures. I was once even “anointed with oil” (busted hydrolic line on a water well drilling rig). Each of us has also been despised and rejected, or at least gotten a door slammed in our face. And sometimes finding the open window involves a bloody crowbar! But we walk on, moving forward, onward and upward, as a friend of ours often says. Been to too many funerals lately. Keep living, keep risking and choosing and moving forward. And love each moment, even when you can’t even…can you tell I”ve been driving all day and am exhausted? Great to hear from you, always.

  3. shanna on June 11, 2016 at 6:50 PM

    that tiny little phrase “own your life” has been the biggest thing I have learned this last year. there is something in me that is always wanting someone else to fix things — my bad day, my financial problem, my health issue, my level of joy — and thinking the answers are out there, in someone else. it’s not true. taking ownership of my own life has been and continues to be (because I’m still learning it) revolutionizing. we can’t go back BUT we can go forward and can choose our outlook as we do!

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