The Artist’s Way: Different Lives, What Could Have Been and What Could Be Still

When I was in college I analyzed a movie in Comp 101, a German film entitled Run Lola, Run (not a parody of the Forest Gump saying, though there may be a connection there I haven’t fully explored). This film, though not widely known, encompasses a widely popular theme: could one split second decision, one moment, one second change the entire outcome of our future? The movie follows the pattern of repeating the same day in Groundhog Day style, but the outcome of each tiny decision that Lola makes alters the ultimate ending or fate of this day—to a catastrophic extent—until she finally “gets it right” and the audience sees how even the tiniest of moments can make an impact on the future.

I think about this sometimes, not because I regret my decisions or want to change the past, but because I wonder…well what if?

During the course of The Artist’s Way study, Julia Cameron has her readers do the same by examining ‘different lives’ or ‘other lives’ he/she could have lived. But she adds a twist—a twist I particularly like. So first, I examined some ‘other lives’


#1: publisher/editor at a large publishing company on the West Coast (I don’t know why I always wanted to do this on the West Coast, but I did—particularly Oregon or Washington…)

#2: Surfer working at a hotel or other tourist location in Hawai’i while I wait to ride the ‘big wave’ (okay, so I’ve been surfing once in my life, but it was something I’d been dreaming about my whole life and this, of course, is a totally different kind of life)

#3: Linguist working at a University or library or museum—in the UK

#4: Linguist/code breaker working for the CIA (yeah, I dreamed this…or maybe I still do)

#5: Chef at a small restaurant in a big city (I kind of always wanted to be Monica Geller on Friends. I can’t really cook, but I always wanted to be able to)

#6: Book/coffee shop owner—a place for teens and young adults to hang out, read, play board games etc)

#7: Cruise ship activities director (yes, the antisocial writer dreamed of doing this once…what a way to see the world!)

#8: Soccer player (well, really I wanted to be a star—but I would have settled for playing in college or on a rec league. I haven’t played in years and didn’t even play in high school. Sometimes I wish I had. This is a childhood dream)

#9: Personal assistant to a CEO at a large marketing or other business (I never wanted to be the CEO, but organizing sounded amazing to me!)

#10: Journalist for a magazine


So, after I analyzed these “different lives” I kind of sigh and think, ah, as if. BUT, Cameron is more encouraging with her twist. She says, don’t just what if your life away—see how you can add bits of these other lives into your CURRENT life. After I blinked two or three times, I saw the brilliance in this. It helps to bring you into a more well-rounded sense of self. It’s not that you need to reinvent who you are, but that you need continue to seek out who you want to become. My artist date this week took me toward that end.  I took my first cooking class at The Stocked Pot, and while I by no means will ever be a chef, I can start by adding new terms and new friends and new interests in cooking to my life which will add more of this “could be” life to my current life.

So what life should I seek next?

What lives could you live?

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