Thursday, May 24, 2012
Making Choices, Accepting Life, and Finding the Way
When I think about it, I can't help but wonder so many things. If I'd made that other choice, the one I really wanted but didn't think I deserved, would life be better? Not just mine but that of all those involved. I was so sure of things then. I never second-guessed my decisions - okay, maybe never is an overstatement. Instead, I acted and let things fall where they fell.
The other night as I chatted in the warm night air of Louisville, Kentucky with my friend, KP, I couldn't help but revisit my past decisions. We talked about our lives in the years since we'd seen one another. We marvelled at parallels we discovered, not always happy parallels but parallels nonetheless. We lamented opportunities lost. We celebrated successes. We blinked back tears and laughed at absurdities. I felt the pang of the pain of a friendship interrupted as I enjoyed the moment of reconnection.
When KP saw through my stories and my struggles and, as she always has, bluntly but lovingly pointed out the reality I hate to face, I could've cried. It took me back to shortly after we first met when she pointed out things about my family I tried to hide. Never one to mince words, KP told me exactly what she thought, then offered me unwavering support and friendship, just like she did all those years ago.
When I disclosed the betrayal of a friend from those days that I thought she knew about, the expression that crossed her face was so pained I felt bad for mentioning it even though it was germaine to the conversation. I remembered again how she'd warned me about the friend who betrayed me. She'd sensed something wasn't quite right. As I bluntly and matter of factly disclosed what happened without a single detail, she couldn't hide her surprise and pain, but she didn't question me or push me. She just accepted where I was, and we moved forward. As I explained how that moment in time influenced my choices for years to come, she understood without needing a lengthy explanation.
We discussed the choices we made over the years in order to make life more peaceful, the choices we made in the name of love, and the choices we made in the name of survival. Choices that left us feeling like we'd lost our selves along the way. Yet, we both recognized our roles in making those choices.
As I drove away from our evening, I blinked back a tear thinking of all the choices I've made and those I haven't made that were essentially choices made by choosing to not choose or to let someone else choose for me. Even though multiple people have pointed out to me that I have the right to make choices for my own life, I realize I've given over many of the choices in my life to other people simply because I exhausted myself fighting them to make my own choices.
Now, it seems it's time to take back the reigns of my life. I must make my own decisions and let the life fall where it falls. Pain is likely inevitable, but if pain leads to true joy that's better than muddling along feel numb. Living is always better than merely existing.
My thoughts turned to writing. When I write a book, I can't really get away with characters who don't make choices, at least not for very long. Characters can't just wander around aimlessly or turn their lives over to someone else unless it's pivotal to the plot. At some point, characters must make choices on their path through life. Those choices are what make characters real and give them depth. In life, when we give up our ability to choose, we can become as one dimensional as a badly written character, a mere silhouette of who we are.
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted, five books of poetry, and a book of short stories. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, creating plant-based recipes, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.