Pondering Choices

Funny thing about choices and decisions. On the surface it would seem that the big choices are issues of light or dark. And yet, as humans we screw that up so often it’s ridiculous. A selfish, or mean spirited decision can never be a good choice.

The real difficulty in choice, is one between a great path, and a wonderful path. Neither path is perfect, both will have hardships. The problem is that the choice will give tremendous joy and direction, but will also remove other specific joys and directions because that path wasn’t chosen.

I used to sail, there were four cardinal points of direction, north, east, south, and west. I picked north and all of my future experiences were based upon my northern route. They were good, I was challenged, I met the challenge, I basked in the sun, and I made safe harbor. But I could have sailed West.

For a time I traveled by thumb, meaning I caught a ride with a car or truck that was already heading for a destination. I was willing to go along with the ride. Often I would be let off when the driver left the more traveled road, with the understanding that I had a direction but not a destination.

I was once let off in the desert on Highway 80. My ride was taking a sharp left turn into a dusty ranch house. I was grateful for the miles. As I put out my thumb again I noticed that I was almost a quarter mile past a fork in the road. Maybe a hundred cars were going east on 80, but maybe 25 cars were taking the right fork to go east on Highway 50.

My decision to stay where I was meant that I would never have the choice to take Highway 50. I was already past that exit. My entire future was going down Highway 80. As the morning sun became the afternoon sun, I was aware of dozens of cars that could never pick me up because they had turned off to go on Highway 50.

Then I thought that I didn’t make the choice of where I was, I was just left off because my driver had reached his destination. I could choose to walk back, past the fork in the road. I could then put out my thumb that would include all those cars that would end up going on Highway 50.

I was still true to my general direction, but now I could allow my destiny to make the choice. Perhaps Highway 50, or maybe Highway 80. A car going on to Highway 50 could stop, but there might be dozens of empty beer bottles rattling on the floor. I could refuse the ride. I still had choices of light or dark.

After I walked back, it turned out the next ride was continuing on Highway 80, but it was in a sportscar with two people in the front, and I had to crawl up on the uncomfortable back shelf. But there were no rattling beer bottles.

And eventually, almost fifty years later I am here in my recliner, having lived everything in between.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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