Choices

by Patrick Dykie

    One of the things that I believe in, and live my life by is the importance of, and the power of the choices we make.  Every day of our lives are spent making dozens, or even hundreds of choices. Some of our choices may be big and some may be so small and seemingly insignificant that we don’t even notice them. I’ve learned over the years that many times, the smallest choices we make are as important as the big ones.

     During this past Christmas season I had the pleasure of meeting some old friends and many relatives that I often lose touch with during the year. We spent a few entertaining evenings with discussions on the state of the world, politics and religion. We also caught up on happenings within our large family which is scattered throughout the country. During our discussions a sad subject was broached about a cousin of mine who had gotten in trouble with the law, and was now in prison.

     Family members had suspected possible drug use, but had not realized the extent to which this young man had strayed down a long and twisted road of bad choices. Everyone talked about how they knew him as an intelligent and well liked young man with a bright future. What happened to him, got me thinking about all the choices I’ve made in my own life. Many have been good, and some bad, but all of them have shaped the path my life has taken.  Who I am, and what my life is like, is a sum of all the choices I’ve made. We’ve all heard someone say,

“But for the grace of God go I.”

     Like many of us, I’ve made some bad choices, taken  paths that led me astray, made more bad choices, and ended up hurt and alone, and facing significant consequences. Looking back, I often wonder how I ever made it to where I am today. I have a good life now. I have a family that loves me, a career, friends, my health, and I’ve almost fulfilled my lifetime dream of being a published writer. I think my life is better because I’ve looked back on many of my choices, learned some hard lessons, and have become more aware of each and every choice I make.

      

     Our entire lives are a series of choices. Everyday of our lives, all of us are faced with choices. Some of these choices may be as simple as what to order at dinner, or the color of our new shoes, and whether they match the jacket we bought last week. Other choices may involve moral decisions. Should I leave work early and have my friend punch me out? You may even justify your choice by exclaiming,

 “Nobody will know, and besides I’m not hurting anyone.”

    All of us after careful consideration have made major choices in our own lives, including the decision to marry, whether to further our education, or maybe to change jobs. If we all take a minute to think, we will realize just how many choices we make in a typical day. How many of us were in traffic today and a driver after tailgating us, sped around us. As he passed by he used a particular finger to give us a universal sign of disdain, while honking his horn. The question to ask yourself is this. What choice did I make in response? Did I relax, and ignore him, or did I reply in my own subtle or not so subtle way while speeding after him down the highway?

     All of us no matter who we are, make good choices, and bad choices. The problems begin when we start making one bad choice after another, until the weight of all those choices becomes like stones placed one on top of the other on our shoulders.  We eventually collapse under the weight of all those bad choices.

     Take the example of my cousin who got good grades in school, went to Church on Sundays, treated his parents with respect, worked hard at a part-time job, and even volunteered his time at a homeless shelter. One Saturday night he went to a party with his friends, and under peer pressure made the choice to try cocaine for the first time. A few weeks later he tried it again. Soon he became hooked on the drug induced high. What followed, was the inevitable progression of more bad choices, including: lying to his parents, stealing from them to support his habit, selling his body to buy more drugs and finally robbing someone in desperation to pay his supplier for one more fix. Soon he was caught by the police, tried in court and ended up sitting in a prison cell and wondering what went wrong.

     He may sit for hours and think to himself what led him to this point. He may even justify his actions by blaming the influence of the drugs. If he thinks long enough he may realize that justification is just an excuse. Hopefully he will also understand that his choices are what caused his problems.

     Sometimes the burden of all our bad choices becomes too much, and we do bad things even though we’re basically a good person. I think that all of us should be more  aware of all our choices. We need to start by making just one good choice. In my cousin’s case, once he’s out of prison he should choose to attend drug addiction support meetings. As he continues to make good choices, whether it’s reconciling with his parents, or helping others who are having problems with drugs, the burden on his shoulders will begin to lighten.

    The problem I’ve often found with all the choices I make is that some may be easy and obvious, while others are confusing and unclear. It’s scary sometimes when you’re not sure which choice you should make. It’s also helpful to remember that the smallest and seemingly inconsequential choices do make a difference to us, and those around us.

       It may also help you to realize that none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, and those dreaded bad choices. I personally try to be keenly aware of my choices, how they affect others, and then I go with my heart. You may ask yourself, how to make good choices? My answer is to start small with your own family. If you have children, then be an example for them. Choose to stop and pick up that soda can by the curb. Choose to hold that door for that elderly woman with the walker. Choose to smile and laugh and hold your temper when things aren’t going your way. Choose to return the money the gentleman in front of you dropped, and don’t hit that horn when the car in front of you doesn’t move as fast as you want when the light turns green.

     The beauty and wonder of this world is that there are always second chances. It’s never too late to make a new start, and begin to make those good choices. It’s never to late to start taking a little bit of that weight off you’re shoulders. I think today I may make a choice I’ve been avoiding for a while. Today I’m not going to pass that scary looking homeless man who sleeps on a park bench near where I work. I won’t avert my eyes and pretend he doesn’t exist. Today I’m going to stop and see how’s he’s doing. Maybe I’ll bring him a blanket, some food, or a little money. It’s never too late to start making good choices

5 Comments to “Choices”

  1. Nice to see you Pdk

    How’s Getting Your Book Published going?

    DarkJade-

  2. Glad to be writing again. Work is taking up most of my time.The book is complete, and ready to go, but the cover is still in the works. Hopefully it will be finished soon.

    • Cool, Best of Luck to yah… I’m going to try to get My Short Story/Novella Edited This Month, and If I do I’ll go ahead and Self Publish it… I’ve Pretty Much Designed the Cover for it

      DJ-

  3. Nicely done post, Patrick. Many people don’t realize they have choice. They fall into the victim role and believe they are no longer responsible for their own lives. Not everyone, but enough people to worry me.

    It’s good to be reminded that all of us are making choices every moment. It’s quite empowering…

  4. Thank you Lorna for commenting. Sorry I haven’t been around lately. My new job is taking up most of my time, and my writing is suffering. I’m one of those people who makes a commitment, and has to give 110%. Hopefully I’ll settle into my job a little, and get back to what I love; writing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: