They say life is the sum total of the choices we make. So to extend the thought, if every positive choice enhances our life, consequently every negative choice must in some way diminish us; therefore, it only follows some do more so than others. I understand this isn’t a startling revelation, yet what if we could take a Mulligan? You know, like in golf, get a “do over.” I certainly would take another swing at a few of life’s choices. They range from small and vacuous, like what was I thinking when I got the hideous perm in my hair during the eighties? To the larger game changers, why did I marry that man and stay married for nineteen years? I don’t look back with any overwhelming sense of regret necessarily; however, during times of reflection, I do see more clearly. As they say, 20/20 hindsight working and the bi-focals help.
I perceive there were other available options I didn’t consider. Life is sort of multiple-choice test, (sorry, that sounded way too “Forrest Gump”). A good friend studied for and took the LSAT exam. She explained how the tutor advised if they ran out of time, during the multiple choice section, to pick one letter and use it for all the remaining answers. “Bubble in the answer,” is what she said. Do we do that, “bubble in the answer?” We recognize the selections on the test. “A,” “B,” “C,” “D.” There they are staring at us. Late at night, we lose sleep over them driving to work we weigh pros and cons or agonize about the verbiage. Is it a trick question? Is this the correct answer? M’mmm “A” sounds right. Maybe “C.” Why do we ignore “D”? Perhaps the least obvious option is spot-on. My suspicion is many don’t choose “D” because “D” is beyond the comfort zone it’s scary. We choose the safe answer, the boring answer, and the socially acceptable answer. What a waste. How plebian. Now, I “bubble in, D.”
Once upon a time “in a galaxy, far, far away” back in high school I started out with “the plan.” The one your parents and society expected of us. You know what I’m talking about the one may of us had: college, marriage, career, children, dogs, cats, volunteer work, exotic travel, followed by retirement and the ensuing golden years. Not original or sexy, but a plan. Everything I intended for my life occurred. Only it wasn’t the way I imagined. Is it ever? At the time, all if it gave the impression of an apparent random, out of sequence cosmic chaos scheme. Am I the only one who’s experienced that? Doubtful. John Lennon’s insightful lyrics, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” reflected my case. The flow of life swept me along, as did my personal choices.
I went away to college. Didn’t finish. Instead, I married and had a beautiful little girl. Then I got divorced, not part of the original plan. I returned to college. Back on track or so I thought, until I remarried. College degree abandoned. Divorced again. In those twenty years, a lot of life transpired none of it exactly designed or calculated; however, lived for better or worse. From my perspective, the positive and negative balanced out, making life a patchwork quilt with the jagged edges of mistakes fitting together. That’s my take, it’s all subjective. My internal compass may not have a true North. Nevertheless, I sensed my direction and for the most part knew where I was headed. The exciting and some would say “foolish” aspect was I didn’t actually ever know how I’d arrive at the destination. The term for my unique methodology is the “no strategy, strategy.”
If I hadn’t chosen “D,” I wouldn’t be who or where I am today. Those choices have determined the sum total of the places I’ve journeyed in life. Instead of the path of least resistance, as Mr. Frost said, (and he was talking to me), “two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Trying choosing “D.”