What would you change if you could go back in time?

Appalachian Trail
THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN THE POCHUCK VALLEY. (PHOTO: MIGUEL VIEIRA/FLICKR)

A common question is “If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently in your life?” I usually say no, meaning that even though I’ve made some horrid decisions in my time, they’ve all led me to where (and who) I am today, which I don’t regret at all.

But today I came across an unusual site – Atlas Obscura – and a post about job opportunities far away from “office life.” Some jobs include volunteering for projects along the Appalachian Trail, serving as artist-in-residence for the U.S. National Park Service or using skateboarding as a means to promote education and youth leadership in Afghanistan.

While I am good at and enjoy what I do, I have often felt wanderlust and dreamed of traveling to far away lands or doing some oddball job that would provide great stories for grandchildren some day. This post definitely offers up some good opportunities for both.

When I was going to college, going abroad wasn’t as big an emphasis as it is today. Even if it was, I worked full time through community college, worked and had a dog while getting my bachelor’s degree and then worked full time through my master’s, as well. It would have been difficult to pack up and leave the country for a semester when I had an apartment and car loan to pay and a dog to care for (and who I would have been heartbroken to leave behind for so long).

But if there is anything I could go back and do differently, I would have found a way to do a semester abroad or travel in some capacity before I “grew up,” got married and had a child. I think there is profound value in exploring other places and cultures and stepping away from the things you’ve always known.

I do consider myself extremely fortunate that I was able to visit Israel when I was 15 with my church youth choir. We went over Christmas break, and while I was terribly homesick that Christmas, we got to perform in Bethlehem Square on Christmas Eve. That is an experience I will never forget, and I would love to go visit again as a more mature adult when I could better appreciate it.

So, what would you do differently if you could go back in time? Or, more importantly, where would you go? What odd job might you take? Why?