Rachel: Well, apparently she [Mindy] caught him [Barry] cheating on her with someone else. Isn’t that sad? (Giggles.) God, could you imagine if I actually married him?! I mean how different would my life be?

Ross: I know what you mean, I’ve always wondered how different my life would be if-if I’d never gotten divorced.

Monica: And what if I was still fat? (To Chandler) Well, you wouldn’t be dating me, that’s for sure.

Joey: Hey, imagine if I never got fired off Days Of Our Lives!

Chandler: What if I had had the guts to quit my job? I’d probably be writing for the New Yorker, getting paid to be funny. But my job’s fun too! I mean tomorrow, I-I don’t have to wear a tie.

Phoebe: What if I had taken that job at Merrill Lynch?

Ross: Hey, do you guys think that if all those things happened, we’d still hang out?

Don’t we all do this? At one point or another, we sit down and wonder what our life would have been like if we had made one different critical choice? Using myself as an example: What if I would have discovered I wanted to be a writer sooner? I could have gotten a degree in the field I love. I could be working as a journalist during the day while writing novels at night. It wouldn’t have taken me so long to get my foot in the door. Life would have been so different, so much better… or would it?

The funny and interesting thing about this episode of Friends is that they do all end up hanging out together, it just takes them longer to get there. Rachel is the one who discovers Barry cheating. Ross discovers his wife is a lesbian rather than her telling him. Monica still gets Chandler, because their love is about friendship way more than outward appearances—which, hint, is what makes all great relationships great. Joey is pretty much the same, but with more money and not living with Chandler—though he is a bit of a jerk to Chandler. Chandler is a struggling writer (are there any other kinds?), barely able to make ends meet and relying on his friend for charity. And Phoebe ends up having two heart attacks at 31, getting fired, and returning to the coffee shop to perform her songs.

I could be wrong, but I think we are all headed in a general direction in life. We are all running toward something, it’s just a matter of time and which choices we make that determines how and when we’ll get there. Kind of like the Israelites. God used Moses to lead them out of slavery in Egypt and take them to the Promise Land. However, because they chose not to go into the land for fear of the people that lived there, they spent 40 years wandering around in circles. They still got to the Promise Land, but constantly looked back to the “good ole days” of slavery and longed for the past, which kept them from entering an amazing future sooner (and all those who didn’t want to enter the Promise Land the first time, ended up dying before they finally crossed the Jordan River).

If we spend our whole lives looking back with yearning, we will never get to the amazing future laying ahead. At some point, we have to turn ourselves around, appreciate what has passed, but engage what is happening now and what lies ahead. Enjoy the view of the present and the future, and realize that sometimes our worst mistakes lead to our biggest lessons. And those lessons make our present and future better than it would have been.

Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:10 ESV

Enjoy the present, look forward to the future, and, of course, dance in fountains to your favorite tunes! 😉

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