Yesterday I was in the mall with one of my friends and we stopped in Express to browse.

You know how those stores are; wonderfully loud music that sounds the way Pixie Sticks taste, cute, headset-wearing guys running around ...and you just have to stop and look at them because they're even prettier than you : )

So, we're looking at the outfits on display and comparing our differing tastes.

I like the weird looking pink dress with the jacket that doesn't really match slung over it, my friend says she's not crazy about that outfit, she prefers the really pretty, red sweater that, for some reason has a nice romantic look to it.

Then my friend is staring at this really sleek black and silvery outfit that's topped with a cropped leather jacket and she looks at it for a long time before quietly saying,

'I'd wear that if I had a different life...'

The way her voice trails off and the expression on her face has me curious, so I ask her what she means.

She smiles and seems a little embarrassed, but that day-dreamy sort of look hasn't left her face, so she goes on to describe what her life might have been like had she gone on to pursue her interest in art.

As she's explaining herself, I'm totally pulled into her daydream, but when she's done I'm feeling a little sad because it makes me wonder if she wishes that's what she'd actually done with her life.

The moment passed and we went on to look at other outfits on display, making up stories about what kind of life the girl who wore each outfit would have. After that we walked around the mall enjoying good conversation and it was a fun, relaxing evening.

But still...that question of "if" gets to me.

What would life be like without "if's"?

Suppose there was no looking back on alternative options that were passed up and instead, we just kept moving forward.

Some people equate that sort of outlook as more positive than one that looks back to consider the "what if's".

I confess, it does make me sad to recall some of the not so great choices I've made, but realizing that I could have made a different decision with a different outcome tempers the depressing factor.

So, while it's probably not a great idea to get stuck in the past, anxiously tripping and falling all over the "what if's...", it can be a good idea to consider and learn from past mistakes.

I like thinking about the "if's" because once I get past the sad part, it reminds me that there are always options...we just have to keep our eyes open to see them.

What do you think? What's one thing you've learned from a past choice you wish you'd handled differently?

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