Choices. We make dozens of them every day. What to wear. What to eat. What to watch on TV.
Most of our daily decisions are no big deal, but there are some that really matter.
We choose to stay angry or we choose to forgive.
We choose to speak out against an injustice or we choose to remain silent.
We choose to stand alone or we choose to give in to peer pressure.
Life is full of moments when we make important decisions. And the decisions that we make not only determine the outcome or consequence but how others react to us.
I’d like to say that I’ve made all of the right choices in life, but I would be lying. The truth is, I’ve made my share of bad ones. And sometimes the consequences have been painful — a bad grade, lost privileges and, perhaps worst of all, the disappointment on the faces of my parents, husband or children.
I’d like to think that the moments when I make bad choices are just as important as the moments when I make good ones because of what I learn. I’d like to think that somehow the good and the bad balance each other out and that, in the end, both have formed who I am today. That’s what I’d like to think, but I guess you can never be sure.
I started thinking about choices recently while taking an inventory of my life. I had lunch with a dear friend, and he asked me some pretty tough questions. The kind that make you uncomfortable because they force you to become introspective. To be honest, it was a moment I didn’t particularly like. I was at a crossroads of sorts, and he was encouraging me to examine my life. To make a list of my goals, evaluate them and determine how I was going to achieve them. He wanted to meet again in a couple of weeks to share my thoughts and see what choices I had made.
I thought about what I had accomplished and what I have yet to achieve. I thought about the choices I’ve made in life. The good and the bad. Those that brought me closer to my goals and those that didn’t.
I thought about my family and friends — and whether I had been the mother and wife or sister and friend that I’ve wanted to be.
The truth is, I’ve fallen short in all of these areas. That’s the bad news. The good is that I have a choice — I can keep trying to do better or I can settle for less. I’m not about settling for less, so the choice is clear.
Each of us is the driver of our lives. We choose which road to take, whether to turn right or left or go straight at an intersection and ultimately where we will end up. And each time we make a choice on our road of life, we need to deal with what lies ahead. Sometimes it’s a pothole or bump. And these hurt. Sometimes there’s a fallen tree blocking the path, and we need to figure out how to get around it. These make us stronger and wiser. And sometimes — and these are the sweetest of times — the road is straight and smooth.
But here’s the thing. Good. Bad. At least we have choices. And, in the end, the choices matter because they help shape who we are and what we hope to become.
First published in the York Daily Record/Sunday News April 22, 2007