Of the unlived lives…

Gacheri Mburugu
4 min readDec 31, 2021



You cannot judge me for what I did for this article to appear as if it was posted in 2021 yet you are reading it in the second week of 2022. I had a stubborn personal goal that I dearly wanted to achieve by whatever means possible. Ha-ha! No, I will not reveal what that was. Well, it has been an incredible year. I have truly experienced the breeze and the rollercoaster that it has been. It is the one that I have made conscious decisions the most; decisions that have led to the most amazing experiences and others have left me thinking “what if?” What if I made a different choice? What if I took a different path? And that got me thinking, do you ever sit and wonder… well, you can stand, lie, hop… do you ever wonder what could have happened, what your life could have been if you made a different decision, if an experience played out differently?

When most people think about decisions, they think about major life decisions like a career change, marriage, family, et cetera. Those are not the only decisions that I am talking about. I am also talking about things like choosing to go to restaurant X instead of Y, taking a different route during your cycling adventure, having a different college roommate, eating differently, learning a new language, learning how to play the saxophone instead of the piano, et cetera. Well, to some extent, these too feel like major decisions. Do you pause to think about the other choice(s)… of the experiences that could have happened? Of the unlived life/ lives?

I do. A lot. Not from a point of regret, but sheer curiosity.

Do these thoughts of this other person that you could have become keep you up at night? Think about it, would you have had the same experiences if you went to a different school; if you had not chosen your current career and employer; if you had not settled with your current partner; if you had lived in a different town than you now do? How could your life have turned out if you had chosen to be the artist that you wanted instead of the lawyer your father pushed you to be? How could your life have turned out if you chose to pursue that relationship? What could have happened if you had not hopped on that train where you met your wife? Who could you have been if you hadn’t lost a loved one- to death or to ego?

What could have happened if you took a different path during a hike? Could you have discovered a scenic adventurous trail with a secret cave? A cave full of treasure enough to pay all adult bills, perhaps?

We do not get to live this alternate life because of the choices we make, the circumstances that we find ourselves in, society constraints, fear, et cetera. When fueled by regret, we tend to think that this unlived life is the life we ought to have lived. That it could have been better and more fulfilling than our actual life. Well, whether that is true or not, I’d like to believe that the compounded effect of our decisions, fundamentally plays a role in molding who and where we get to be in reality. Given the chaotic world we live in, thinking much about our alternate life, this unlived life… okay; I don’t know where I was going with that statement. Ha-ha! Sorry.

I like it when people narrate beautiful stories of how other people, who they met by chance, unimaginably changed their lives- positively. Stories of how they got to where they are because of the influence that these people had along their journey. People, whether through a brief encounter or a long relationship changed their perception of life, opened doors for them, inspired them to think differently, showed them a possibility whose existence they were completely unaware of… their mentors. I like these stories because I am often left curious whether they think of the alternate person that they could have been without the influence of these mentors. What could their life’s journey have been like?

While the thought of the unlived life/ lives is unsettling to some, it could be an inexistent thought to others. Understandably, not everyone is haunted by the thoughts of this other person they could have become. Wait, really? Are there people who do not wonder about this unled life? How do you manage to not think of this whole different person you could have possibly become? These experiences that you could have lived? The person you could have become had you kept in touch with the people that you perfectly bonded with on a trip…

O no! Not this- a conclusion. I do not like this part very much. It feels like the goodbye of writing. I often write it under duress. Have you wondered what articles would look like if we were not accustomed to conclusions? I mean, just a full stop at the last thought and that’s it. Seriously though, do you wonder about that path that you did not take? The kind of person you could have been without that sobering experience? Think about it. And if you can, let me know about it.

I wish you, my dear reader, a Happy New Year unless, of course, you have other plans.



Gacheri Mburugu

Archery lover with a bad publishing schedule.