Tonight I felt like I had driven the same stretch of road with the same sad song and same heavy heart a million times in the last few years of my life. For a moment, I felt like time had stopped; paused in a moment that could crush the soul. Driving away from some of the most important things in my life with the vibrant light of dreams and love fading sharply in my rear view mirror.
But life is about choices. The choices we make as well as the choices that are made for us. We can make the choice not to wallow. We can make the choice to acknowledge the pain of choices that don’t make us happy and then make the choice to make new choices. Tonight I chose to change the music, open the window, take a deep breath and let the pain of the pass float away on the evening air.
It may be trite and over stated, but you really do only get this one life. You get one chance to live. I choose not to waste my life complaining about what’s been done to me, how I’ve been wronged, or how the world has screwed me over. I choose to take responsibility for my choices, to own them and, even when I’ve been wrong, to be proud that I can acknowledge my poor choices and do something to even them out.
I’ve made choices that could have ruined my life… if I were the type to wallow or blame everyone else for my unhappiness or hardships. I’m thankful that I wasn’t raised that way. At sixteen I made the choice to drop out of high school. I own that decision. That choice was just one of many over the years that have made me who I am. It didn’t ruin my life. I didn’t let it. I’ve had horrible things happen to me. I’ve had uncontrollable events throw me into a tailspin. But I choose not to let every bad event, every broken heart, every rejection, every plan that doesn’t work out, I CHOOSE not to let those things bring me down. I choose to actively take part in my life.
I wanted to wallow the last few months. I wanted to cry and rail at the world. I wanted to blame the person who hurt me for destroying every dream I had. I wanted to sit down with pint after pint of Ben and Jerry’s and get horribly fat and complain about how it was something that was done TO me, not by me. We all have our moments. It’s how we react to the events in our life that define us.
Instead I chose to return to my adventurous roots. I put on my big girl panties and started looking for new adventures, new opportunities, new friends, and new choices that could improve my life. I chose to let go of the superficial things in my life and the repetitive stagnation of living on auto pilot. I chose to stop eating at the same old restaurants every time I wanted to go out. I chose to try new foods and new restaurants. Saturday night I ate octopus at a sushi bar… It was good! A couple weeks ago I chose to let down my hair, trust the people I love to take care of my son, and dance. Just dance. Like no one was watching. I haven’t felt that free in a long time.
Dim Sum in China Town. Moroccan cuisine in boystown. A walk on the riverfront or training for a mud run. A painful experience with an esthetician and a bottle of wax. New events, new experiences, these are the memories I want to take with me forever. Not the misery of a broken heart or a bad economy. The knowledge that I was strong enough to make the choice to explore my own horizons. I do these things for me. I do these things and make these choices because I want my child to enjoy the world around him without fear of what others think.
People ask me how I can be so optimistic when things are going so wrong in the world. The news is horrible every evening and everything seems to be “going to hell in a handbag”. I’m not ignorant of the problems in the world. I pay attention to the news. I give it a respectable amount of thought, I mull it over, and then I choose not to let it ruin my day. I choose not to let it ruin even a minute of my life. I meet people with different viewpoints, different beliefs, different thought processes and I accept them as they are. I don’t argue with them or try to get them to see things from my perspective. Acceptance is a powerful tool in this life and I choose to use it to make my little corner of the world a better place to live.
I choose to live every day with my heart on my sleeve, an open book whenever possible, an honest opinion and spoken truth. I’ll put myself out there every day even if it means I get wounded a million times over. Because each choice that’s made for me. Every dream that appears to be shattered. Every bad day that I cannot control… I can still control how I respond to life. I can choose to change my dreams as opposed to giving up on them. I can choose to breathe in and let go of frustration on a bad day. I can choose to accept that the choices of others will affect me but that I can also choose not to let them bring me down.
I choose to live each and every day. Because this is the only life I have to live and I would rather choose to live with upbeat music, driving towards a new future, than to box myself into the belief that my best days are behind me in the rearview mirror.
Tonight I will choose to enjoy the silence and calm. In the morning, I will choose to wake up with a smile despite the pain from my current tonsil infection and I will go to work and choose to try to brighten the lives of others by being my usual optimistic, cheerful self and hope it spreads like a virus. (The optimism… not the tonsil infection. Just so we’re clear. )