Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 181: The Consequences of Our Choices

"The price of anything is the amount of life 
 you exchange for it."~Henry David Thoreau

Those who know me, know that I am not a person who believes that things happen for some mysterious, unknown reason, that it is somehow destiny, is just meant to be, or, that it is part of some higher power's plan.

To me, things happen, and our lives go in a certain way because of some choice or decision we either made, or didn't make. You can call it fate, or you can call it destiny, but to me that negates the power we have over our own lives. Every step we take through our lives influences what happens to us, and what the next step will be. Things happen because they are part of life, or more specifically, part of our lives.

But, there are some things that we do not have control over, that we did not and cannot decide or choose, and that we certainly didn't ask for. They are the things that leave us asking, "why?"

Not surprisingly, these are usually not the good things. While there are so many good things, too many for me to even list, life also involves some painful and horrific things. Things that we are never prepared to deal with, but we somehow do because we have to.

I don't think these things happen as "punishment" or because we are bad people. The only answer I have found is that they just come with living as a human being. Our bodies wear out, we get sick or diseased physically and/or mentally, and on a smaller scale (although it doesn't feel that way to us) they happen because somebody else's choice or decision differs from ours (i.e. they don't love us back, they want to move on, etc.).

I certainly did not intend to write such a Debbie Downer post today. I guess it makes some sense since I have been reading about the death of Nora Ephron, the brilliant writer/screenwriter, who wrote some of my favorites like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle.

She had a great sense of humor and was kind of a cynical romantic (sort of how I feel about things). And, now that I am 50 the fact that she died at 71 makes it even sadder to me.  I was particularly struck by something she wrote in her last book, about how the older you get, you realize that the days are getting shorter:
"You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it."
I have to say that over the past year, this whole turning 50 thing has really made me think about this. And, I am now going to admit in what sounds like the worst cliche yet, I have started to really think about my own mortality and making the most of the time I have left.

And, if I had to give advice to my 15 year-old self it would be this: "There are already many opportunities in my life that I have missed, remember that there is no "do over." Do not miss anymore." 

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