The funnel effect

One of the hardest parts of moving from my twenties into mythirties has been what I call the funnel effect, the steady narrowing down of options.

I can recall that heady feeling in university of considering an array of career possibilities. The difficulty lay not in choosing science and then medicine, but in having to discard other fields. And again in medicine, I had to pick one specialty from a very appealing lineup. I think I made good decisions, but sometimes it seems a shame that I’ll never be a linguist or a pediatrician.

The same goes for living choices. Renting apartments and basement suites as a student, I felt I had a literal world of possible homes in which to settle down in the future. But while it’s still possible to rove the globe, there are sacrifices  – particularly involving my children – that I’m not willing to make. So I find myself in a brown 1970's cliffside home in Deep Cove, an actual pinpoint on a map.

In my twenties, the choice of life partners, which I will not presume to be limitless, was wide open. Now I’m married, and the children that were possibilities years ago have names and birthmarks.

There is a deep satisfaction that comes with watching your life progress, committed to the choices you’ve made. There have been blessings I could never have imagined.

But now that my life has funneled down to doing particular work in a particular city with a particular partner and children, it sometimes feels uncomfortably tangible. The range of possibilities of my university days lent to a sense of immortality, of an infinitely long and pleasantly undefined life stretching ahead. Now some things are set; there are commitments, details, sacrifices.

It's taking some getting used to.