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Like most writers, I’m a student of the human condition, a psychological voyeur, and this week life has presented me a lesson or two, offered some insight to how fragile the ship of life is, and how it is the course we set that determines most of the joy, sadness, and fascination in the journey.

We are all a composite of the choices we have made in life – 90 percent of where we are in this lifetime is a result of those choices. Now, we may whine occasionally about being victims of bitter luck – being in the wrong place at the wrong time – but most of what we are, and where we are, is all about choices.  And they tell a great deal about us. I love the line by J.K. Rowling, author of The Harry Potter series. “It’s our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Choices come in several forms – the ones we make willingly, well ahead of time, with forethought (these are the good ones), and the choices we make trying to recover or defend ourselves after the bad ones we made impulsively, carelessly, selfishly, and distinctly without planning. If you don’t know where you’re going, making good choices is like rolling dice – sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t… I’m reminded of the quote by Lewis Carroll, in Alice in Wonderland: “Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which fork do I take?’ she asked.

“Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.

‘I don’t know,’ said Alice.

‘Then,’ said the Cat,’ it doesn’t matter.’”

It should always matter… Because heroes and fools are made by the paths they choose, not their powers, or lack of. When you have to make a choice – when a decision is thrust upon you – do the right thing. You know what that is, even if you claim you don’t. The worst thing you can do is make no effort at all.

All choices come with price tags. We pay the toll-master of life for what we do, what we allow ourselves to become. Sometimes the price is comfortable, sometimes it’s a bitch. (That sounds like something Rodney Dangerfield would say.) Sometimes we grasp coincidence, call it fate, and pray it will be divine intervention, but you have to be careful with this kind of approach – sometimes carelessly made choices are paid for with lifetimes, or huge segments of lifetimes. Still, I would say, never be afraid to let your destiny become a roll of the dice – never be afraid to take a chance.

The unique thing about this “making choices” thing is that we’re constantly granted the opportunity to redefine and reinvent ourselves. If you’re not happy with who you are, or where you are, take another shot at it. Be less concerned about whom you bother with this approach and more concerned with squeezing your share of juice from the orange of life.

Drink the juice, eat the pulp, and dance on the rind.

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