Remembered by the choices we make

The storm rolls toward us at sunset. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford
The storm rolls toward us at sunset. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

THE DAY ENDS.

A storm rolls in.

The clouds are a warning.

The sun offers hope.

What’s real?

What isn’t?

Truth is lost in the shadows.

We believe one.

We pray the other is a lie.

Deep inside us, it’s the choice we make.

It’s the story we tell ourselves.

Another week.

Another day.

Another funeral.

They come regular.

“What are you gonna do this week?” my wife asks.

“Go to a funeral,” I say.

“Who died?”

“Don’t know yet.”

I shrug.

“But the phone will ring.”

She sighs.

The phone rings.

As I sit and listen to the eulogy about a person’s life, boiled down from a pulpit to fifteen minutes, I realize one thing.

Life is all about choices.

Good ones.

And bad ones.

They weren’t all good at the time.

They weren’t all bad.

Twenty years later, we look back, and the choices finally take shape.

We take one job.

We say no to another.

Choices.

We marry one girl.

We forget another.

Choices.

We divorce one woman.

We find another.

Choices.

We drink too much alcohol.

We abstain altogether.

Choices.

We drive too fast.

We remain forever in the slow lane.

Choices.

We take a chance.

We ignore all risks.

Choices.

We pack up and move.

We decide to stay.

Choices.

We write because we love the written word.

We ignore the written word because there’s no money in them.

Choices.

We write mysteries.

We write romances.

We don’t write at all.

Choices.

They make life worth living.

They make life a living hell.

Choices.

They’re wonderful in novels.

I hate to make them in the real world.

Choices.

They define us.

Or they destroy us.

We remember them.

We are haunted by them.

But who knows?

The road not taken, the road we see so clearly in our regrets, may have wound up as the roughest road of all.

In the years I’ve been on this earth, I’ve made good choices.

I’ve made a lot of bad ones.

I have to live with them.

But you know who winds up as the most unfortunate soul of all?

The one who faced choices, looked away, and didn’t make any of them.

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  • The time will pass whether you do anything with it or not.

    I’m glad I started writing. I’m hoping I will finish the whole trilogy before I have to go.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I’m like you, Alicia. I keep writing so I won’t have a reason to go.

  • Roger Summers

    If I hadn’t taken so many wrong roads, wouldn’t have come across so many stories to tell. So, in a quite real way, maybe they were the right roads. Also . . . another terrific Crawford photograph. Art, really.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Roger, you and I owe our careers to the wrong roads we’ve taken. I pity those who followed the signs.

  • Carol Toberny

    Great article. As always, a lot to ponder.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Carol, life has a lot of choices for us to ponder.

      • Carol Toberny

        Agreed!

  • Caleb Pirtle

    I usually make the wrong choice, or take the wrong road, then spend the rest of my life looking for the right one. Even if I make the right choice, I’m always suspicious and doubtful of the decision I made.

  • Don Newbury

    Reminds me of the old playful phrase heard years ago said to describe the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s editorial policy: “But on the other hand.”…

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