I am not sure what it is about my theme today that captures me. I guess it’s because there is such truth in the simple statement that we each write the story of our lives one choice at a time.
Regrets or joy, we make choices every hour, every day, every month, every year and will do so for the rest of our lives. And those choices will be a reflection of what we love or once loved, cared about or decided to toss out, something we fought for or something we fought against. The choices we make will, for the most part, help us to become who we are or who we decided we would not be.
Every day the sun comes up, and you are still with us–you are writing the next page of your story. It would be fascinating to acknowledge what stories you add in and which stories you purposely leave out–which ones you embellish and which ones you play down–which stories you enjoy telling, and which ones you have buried so far down in your memory that you’ve almost forgotten them.
One of the great things about life as we look back is that many times we can see the bumps or forks in the road that took us down other well-worn paths and not the ones we thought we needed to plow or wanted to go, yet here we are.
I like to hear others’ stories. In my effort to get to know people, I often ask what was their interest when they were younger or when they were in school, or what adventures did they take that they, at one time, thought would be the career path they would travel for life. Seems that in my unscientific survey very few people are in the field they thought they would be in due to opportunities or job advancement or stroke of luck that has handed them breaks, which allowed them to find a job they love (or like well enough to hold their interest and pay the bills).
Many times I hear stories of how one day the phone rang, or a friend invited, or a seat was empty, and my friends took advantage of the situation…and the rest is history as they say.
I am sure some reading this post or listening by podcast can, within an instant, relive an unexpected joyful moment that will be forever imprinted in their mind. They can, down to the most minute detail, tell the story over and over, never missing a point of interest. And others shake their heads over some of the unfortunate choices that were made that still hang on and keep a memory stuck in the past.
No matter which side you find your story on, just remember that until you pass from this earth, your story isn’t over, and you get to write the final chapter any way you choose. It could be a mystery, a love story or a grand adventure.
With the truthful understanding that we each write the story of our lives one choice at a time, this might be a good time to stop and assess where we are and where we are headed.
I think it is worth a reminder that if you have made mistakes in your past and have done what you can to make the situation right, if you have apologized or done what you could have, within reason, to make it right, move on with your life. You know that I am all for shutting that door and throwing away the key never to be found and opened again, so I say, leave the past behind, and walk into the next chapter of your future. Don’t turn any of the pages back.
To that point, hear the words of the poet Osho who said, “Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
A festival! I like that thought, and if you have done great things and have been successful, let’s celebrate. I commend you on being an example of self-won accomplishment… not easy to do these days, so stop and revel in your successful work.
I was reading a post online last week, and the topic was about the need to slow down and celebrate life as it is. Celebrate the good jobs, successes and adventures in life, and the reason this is so important is that, with each pleasant memory, we build remembrances of happy times to hold us closely when times aren’t so great.
Since we each write the story of our lives one choice at a time, I think it is incumbent on us to make the memories of the good times with good friends and family as bold and as memorable as we can, searing the memory into our mind to be our touch point when times get tough, and life is hard. As you can well imagine, going back to a happier time will make whatever hardship that you are going through today a bit easier.
So get started on your good memories. Make that call to the friend who you promised to go deep-sea fishing with, or take that bike ride down the California coast and see nature up close and personal. Visit that teacher, coach, pastor or neighbor who showed you love and acceptance when others passed you by. Your choice of memory-making might be the bit of joy that they need to brighten their day.
As with the story of your life by the choices you make, your decision to bring happiness to others will pay dividends far beyond what you would ever expect–life just works that way–so do your part, and keep the memories alive.
I am an avid reader, and I love stories of history because I do think that once the past becomes blasé and forgettable so much more is lost than the places and people who were “the life of the town.” History is erased, the memories are eroded and then forgotten. I think that is why I am drawn to metal detecting–it brings history to life, even for a moment, when I find a piece of history or a coin from the past deep in the soil reflecting those who once walked that way.
I’d like to push you towards memories that are happy and leave you with a sense of calm and well-being. I’m not interested in stirring up old hurts and regrets. You know it serves no purpose for your amazing future to dwell on things that still cause the heat of pain. And to that point, if others keep piling up your past mistakes for all to see and gossip about, then you need to excuse yourself from the party and find a new avenue on which to build your new memories.
One of my favorite writers, Steve Maraboli, says, “If people refuse to look at you in a new light, and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.”
Remember, don’t drag your past with you. Let it go, and live the life you’ve imagined or re-imagined for your next chapter. How exciting it is to dream about what you will do next if you’ll just lighten up and stop stressing over the minutia of your day-to-day routine. Don’t let life make you old before your time–choose differently.
The famous children’s writer Leo Buscaglia wrote, “Let go. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It is not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you from hope and love?”
All I can add is…great question! Why do you purposefully block the gifts of hope and love? Friend, you have got to stop acting and thinking like you don’t deserve to be loved and cared for. Stop being a martyr–it doesn’t look good on you. In fact, it isn’t even your story line. So erase your poor opinion of yourself, and re-write it to that of a champion, a hero, a conqueror–a winner at life.
We each write the story of our lives one choice at a time, so draw your line in the sand, and choose to live on the bright side of the street. You have choices. You can decide when, where and how you will respond to life as it comes at you, and never forget that you are in charge of you, so make wise choices that reflect your values, your heart, your soul and the things you love.
Go ahead and start writing today.