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The roads not taken, and where to go from here - Jason A. Smith

I was driving around town recently, when I saw something that started my mind racing.

It was a sign advertising some type of music lessons - piano, I think. I only saw the poster for a few seconds before passing it, but I couldn't help wondering about opportunities I've missed in my life.

Although I've never had a desire to learn how to play the piano, there was a time when I desperately wanted to learn how to play the guitar. During another period, it was the drums.

As it is, I've been relegated to pretending I was playing an instrument while listening to songs on the radio.

However, it's not just the musical realm which, on occasion, causes me to lament things I've never done, or those activities I undertook later than I should have.

When I was a teenager, my brother was always trying to convince me how much I needed to work out. He'd take me outside our house, to his weight bench, and attempt to show me how to use it.

During those rare occasions when I took him up on his offer to help me, it was only for a few weeks, before I gave up on the idea.

I was 20 years old before I obtained my driver's license. It's sad, I know. I wanted to get it at 16, like a normal person, but in retrospect, I know I didn't want it bad enough to put in the effort necessary.

I think the only reason I got my license when I did was because the girl I was dating had just gotten hers the day before, and I didn't want to be outdone.

A couple of years ago, I knew I needed to lose weight. However, the desire to do so wasn't there until I was about to get married. I ended up losing nearly 50 pounds that year.

These days, cooking is the activity I know I should learn more about. When I was growing up, there wasn't much of a need for me to know my way around a kitchen. Then I got married, and everything changed.

I'm still not much of a cook, but I've taken a few baby steps to improve on that. Still, I know I have along way to go.

For me, it seems the best way to ensure I work on something I know I need to improve on, is to have something dangling in front of me to chase after.

I didn't really have anything to motivate me when I was playing "air guitar" in high school, so I never pursued the real thing. I never bothered working out, either, and I'm probably the most out-of-shape person I know, as a result.

Those things for which I had motivation - such as learning to drive, cook or lose weight - have been more bearable for me. I think that's because I found a reason, beyond the expectations of others, to achieve those things.

Looking to the future, though, there is one thing I've never done, which I cannot wait to do. My wife and I want to have children.

On one hand, the prospect of bringing a life into this world, and being completely responsible for that life, scares me to death. Normally, such an outlook would send me running in the opposite direction.

However, the idea of being a father is something I cannot help running toward. I know I will be completely unprepared for parenthood whenever it happens, but I want this more than anything.

Hopefully, that desire will help me to become the kind of parent, and the kind of person, I want to be.

I still think about all the opportunities I've not taken hold of in my life. But, these days I do so from a different perspective.

I believe I have choice. I could simply wonder what might have been, had I chosen to work out, or play an instrument or anything else. Or, I could strive to teach my future children to learn from the mistakes of their father, and chase their dreams.

I think I'll choose the latter.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161, or via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.