What I should have done…

Lani and I outside my apartment building in New York City (1974):


The past is immutable. I can never go back in time to change what happened.  But, I still like to imagine the possibilities.

I arrived in New York City in 1970 (after traveling around the world) and immediately found work as a secretary at Columbia University. One of the perks of being an employee was that I was allowed to take six credits of coursework per semester for free.  I did not have to pay tuition.  So, I enrolled in undergraduate courses at night, studying music theory, music history, and other topics.  I enjoyed these classes so much that I applied to Columbia University Graduate School.  I was admitted to the Master’s degree program in music as a full time graduate student (I had to quit my secretarial job).  That was a huge mistake on my part, because the program caused undue stress for me.  After two years in graduate school, I left without finishing my Master’s thesis.  It was a lost cause, and I had a student loan to pay off.

What did I learn from this? I realized that I should not have considered music as a possible career.  I should have considered it a hobby.

By continuing to work at Columbia as a secretary, I could have taken six credits per semester for free forever:  Classes in Russian language or Korean history or anything else that was fun to study.  It didn’t have to be only music.

12 Responses to “What I should have done…”

  1. Christine Says:

    Sorry it didn’t work out but I think you were meant to return to Hawaii.

  2. DJan Says:

    I too can look back at times when my life was changed by a decision that I wish I had not made.

  3. SchmidleysScribblins Says:

    Sadly we are often too soon old and too late wise.

  4. Carole Says:

    Sometimes it is hard, when we look back at things we wish we had done differently. I do that too, sometimes. I’m glad you have a lot of happiness in your life; helps to make up for some of life’s regrets 🙂

  5. Joanne Noragon Says:

    I think we wind up making the best of the decisions we should not have made.

  6. Olga Says:

    If only we had the wisdom of experience in our youth!

  7. Linda Reeder Says:

    Every experience is a learning opportunity.

  8. Henri Chapin Says:

    Columbia University grad school is notoriously stressful. That’s why, after graduating from the undergraduate college of Columbia (which was fun, not stressful,l and which I loved beyond measure) I went to grad school at the University of New Mexico where I could have a life. My plan worked.

  9. Tom Sightings Says:

    The road not taken always seems like it might have been better … but I’d bet it rarely is. Anyway … what about the handsome-looking dog?

  10. honoluluaunty91 Says:

    There was a line in “The Grandmaster” when Gong Er (played by the beautiful Ziyi Zhang) says, “Imagine how boring life would be without regrets.”

    It might be boring, but who knows? Sometimes I wish we could have the chance to do it all again, like a split movie screen, and see where it takes us.

  11. Kay G. Says:

    Oh well, never mind. You are happily living in Hawaii with a great family and your family of blogging friends all over the world!

  12. Joared Says:

    Can’t assume everything would have been positive as you described it had you done things differently — you might have stressed out over something else, or been hit by a car crossing the street.

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