We are fresh off a huge decision making season. From choosing the perfect gift to give our friends and family to whether or not we’ll make the dreaded new year’s resolutions for the umpteenth time to the thousands of decisions – both minor and major – we make every single day.
My mom has a saying she shared with me from the time I was a small child. Anytime I would complain about the direction of my life, or lack thereof, she reminded me. “Life’s all about choices.” Of course, this sage advice was often followed with another reminder, “You’ve made your bed…now you have to lay in it.”
I don’t know about you, but often times I take the privilege and freedom to make decisions and choices in my life entirely for granted. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “With great freedom, comes great responsibility.” During a Facebook chat with a young woman in the Philippines recently, she was fussing about the fact her parents were making all of the decisions for her. She stressed to me that “I” got to make ALL the decisions in my life. She’s right. I do. I reminded her (along with myself) that I also had to live with ALL the consequences as well. (I make my bed…now I have to lay in it.)
Life isn’t easy – we all know this. And unlike the characters in my fiction novels, when I make choices for them…if I don’t like it, I simply hit the backspace or delete key and try again. Unfortunately, we can’t do that in real life.
Many of our choices are simple: What do I eat for breakfast today? One spoon or two of sugar in my tea? Many are not: Should I stay in this relationship? How can I get through to my kids? Where will I go to college?
These decisions come with far greater and longer lasting consequences (potentially good or bad) that can’t easily be undone with a stroke of some keys on your laptop and often times involve more than just ourselves.
While I’d love to be able to share some great piece of wisdom or plotting wheel to help you ensure you always make the right choices, we both know I’d be blowing smoke if I even tried. What I will share is that when plotting a book, I have to focus on both short and long term goals for my characters and their story arcs. I try to do the same in my own life. What seems horrible today…will it seem as bad when I look back on it in 5, 10, or 20 years? Is taking the easy way out today and avoiding conflict going to serve me well in the long run?
I could go on and on, but the truth is each of us has our own set of questions we must ask ourselves to deal with the choices life gives us today. I want to close my blog with some of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs – words that remind me each day I can start anew and make fresh choices to alter – whether in a grand way or a subtle way – what the story of my life will be.
“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfeld
I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten