It’s 4:00 am and the house is quiet. I am sitting here deciding whether to launch myself into the future or down memory lane. I am at the keyboard in this predawn hour because a realization about life woke me up, then kicked off other realizations which finally banished any chance of sleeping until I wrote something down.
I had this expanding perception of how our decisions drive us through life. Basically, each decision creates a new future which we step into all unsuspecting. Here are some examples:
I want to be a fireman and save people…
That’s the kind of person I should have married…
People here really don’t appreciate my efforts.
Oooohh! That looks like fun!
I am getting out of here if it kills me!
Life sucks! Everyone else gets the breaks…
Sometimes we come to a crossroads where the decision is obvious and apparently irrevocable. Those are actually the easy ones, because the future direction is laid out with spotlights and warning signs. Decisions like getting married, buying a house, running away from home, leaving the scene of a crime, all of these disparate choices have enough emotional impact that we usually choose wisely. They are so obviously important that our families spend a great deal of time explaining the risks long before we are forced to make these choices.
I think the more difficult decisions are those that slide by us, often without setting off any alarm. Watching TV at every opportunity instead of reading or doing something creative, indulging in emotional outbursts when things go wrong instead of handling the problem, or giving in to keep the peace instead of standing up for what you know is right. I think these are the decisions that affect the quality of our lives the most.
There are some people who amble through life like stray dogs, taking the path of least resistance in their search for something to keep themselves amused. Often they are charming in a superficial way, but they do not understand the consequences of their actions. The most charitable thing you could say is that they are “unreliable.” The actual fact is that their surface charm invites you to trust them and this will complicate your life immensely, if not destroy it.
Your future is nothing more than the sum of all decisions being made about it. It rolls out before you like a carpet, zigging and zagging as you and others make the decisions involving your daily life.
Far better that you knowingly make decisions than let them slide through without inspection. You can also choose friends and lovers who are making wise decisions about their lives. Associating with others who can’t or won’t decide wisely, puts you at risk. Of course, that’s your decision, isn’t it.
In sum, life isn’t a series of well-marked crossroads. It’s a continuously branching network of pathways through time. If you have a goal in mind for your life, it makes it a lot easier to decide on the fly whether to spend time on the couch in front of the TV or to take the kids to a museum. The stray dog approach to life can be exciting, but you find yourself down the road a ways with nothing accomplished.
I’m not suggesting that you be careful. That’s not what this is all about. I’m suggesting that consider that you are dealing out your future with every decision you make or decide not to make.
It’s your future. What do you want it to be?