© 2010 by David Wainland
What yardstick do we go by when we make decisions? Are we impulsive or do we think things through? How many decisions that may change our lives do we commit to during the course of twenty-four hours?
When I check my closet in the morning I already have some idea as to what I will wear for the day, I’m limited in that respect, challenged even, you might say. I know there will be jeans in the mix and a pullover t-shirt. So it is simply what color and nothing more. I don’t have to decide on whether to brush my teeth or not, that part of my life is preset.
What will I make for breakfast? Now that is a major-minor decision. Again I limit my choices between an English muffin, a bagel or whole wheat toast. What will be my topping, perhaps fat free cream cheese, margarine or maybe an egg? That is simple enough. No major problems there unless one of the items is spoiled and then that is the luck of the draw, presenting a new set of problems and decisions.
Then I make the next big decision of the day. What channel will I watch? Will it be Good Morning America or the Today show?
So far there is nothing dangerous looming out there, however the wheels of chance begin to turn when I leave the house. I have two cars. One of them might have a bad tire or worn belt. How do you choose? It is really simple, I take mine. If I picked my wife’s car she would say OK, but very reluctantly and I would have to explain. So, I climb into my 2002 burgundy Honda CRV.
Once I am out of the driveway I enter the real world of possibilities, probabilities and catastrophes. I can go straight or bear right around the bend for a change of scenery. What lies directly ahead I can make out what’s around the bend? That is one of life’s little mysteries. It could be clear, but then somebody might be pulling out of a driveway and because of the curve, not see me coming. Or maybe there is a stalled garbage truck blocking the road or even a pothole.
If I make it out of the neighborhood I can choose north or south. All roads lead away from my home and to most of my destinations. What I find or meet on the route of choice again determines my day.
So it goes, another day of choices, decisions and results. Sometimes I pass others on the road who have inadvertently made bad decisions. My heart goes out to them and I wonder what their day might be if the accident had not occurred. In fact, if I am in a near collision or even near-death situation I wonder if having survived is an accident or fate. Sometimes I think there might be a parallel world where I did not survive or one where my mistake went undone. Would a simple error or lapse in judgment make or break the stream of events in the universe? Surely being dead would, but a near miss?
If I turned the corner in a hallway a moment sooner or a second later would I have met the man that changed my life. That chance encounter did happen, but would it have happened if I dilly-dallied over my choice of breakfast that morning. Would the chain of events that made me what I am today ever have happened?
And what about the time I went to New Hope, Pa. and discovered an artist welding together found objects and selling them. If I had not witnessed his work would it have been possible for me to become a metal sculptor myself? Reaching further back, had my father not owned a welding torch in his shop how would I have learned the process?
Further back I remember lying on the floor of our apartment in The Bronx and copying a cartoon with a number-two pencil onto a piece of blank paper and my dad asking me if I liked to draw and answering, “Yes.” He then proposed art lessons by one of his friends. It took two years for the lessons to happen, yet I used those years well, teaching myself and developing my talents. What would be if he did not look over his newspaper and down onto the floor and catch me in the act?
Lately it has been another choice for me, to write or not to write. Not whether I have the knowledge the ability or the talent. Rather, do I still have the desire?
What will happen if I finish this article, edit it and pass it on to my teacher? Will she like it? It is her decision of course, but she will let me read it in class and then that group will have a decision to make. Yes or no, thumbs up or down.
What is simple is in the knowing that you cannot make it though life as a writer by deciding not to decide. That is of itself a decision, albeit a negative one.
So in the end, I will make a choice, decide to do it with aplomb, do it with grace, do it with forethought and finally write about my decision. The worse that can happen is she will send it back to me littered with red letters.
Hmmm, it seems I have finished it without even thinking.
He presses send.