Have you ever wondered what would happen if just one little detail in your life had happened just a bit differently? If you had stayed home instead of going out one night? If you had made a left turn at the light instead of a right?
My friend and I were discussing this the other day. We were talking more in terms of bigger decisions such as college choice (for him) or studying abroad (for me).
But what about the smaller, seemingly insignificant decisions that we make on a daily basis?
Take a moment to think of one such decision that would have irrevocably altered your life.
For me, that would be as simple as an e-mail. If I hadn't opened an e-mail that was sent to me back in December of 1998, my life would be so immensely different than it has turned out.
Back in December '98, I was a Hall Director at Northern Illinois University. I wasn't your regularly detached Hall Director as I had just received my B.A. degree a mere year and a half earlier, so I wasn't too far removed in age from the students in my charge. Heck, in some cases, they were older than me (I had a 21 and over floor in my building). Being so close in age meant that, in a few instances, I was actually pretty good friends with my residents and R.A.s.
One person, in particular, I had become relatively close with. We would talk about many things outside the scope of normal Hall Director-Resident conversations. Family, friends, hobbies, TV shows, personal likes and dislikes, you name it.
Come December and Christmas Break, this person was going home for the month. Just before leaving, they stopped by my office to leave me an e-mail address and get mine as well so we could continue "talking."
A week or so had gone by and I went into my e-mail account and read through my inbox. Nothing worthwhile. Then I jumped into my junkmail folder.
Typically, I just delete them all without a second thought given. But, every once in a while, I will actually look at the sender name and subject line to see what kind of funky new scam is happening in the Web world.
This time, I saw one that said "Remember Me?" in the subject line from a sender I couldn't identify at all. For whatever reason, I opened the e-mail. Call it morbid cybercuriosity.
Turns out the e-mail was from this friend of mine whose own e-mail was inaccessible and was using her mother's e-mail account to try to get a hold of me.
Now that I knew from where to expect the messages, I was able to set my account to deliver these particular e-mails to my inbox.
And we kept in contact.
And, two years and ten months later, we were married.
Moral to this story:
Yes, e-mail can be a wicked curse, ridden with spam, viruses, Trojan Horses, bad jokes, and the like. And, while I'm not advocating opening every single e-mail in your junk folder (please God, don't do that!), take a second to look at the list of senders and subjects before you empty the folder out of principle. Who knows what kind of good stuff might have been sent your way.