You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.
– Erica Jong
The story of our lives is ours to create. We can design our own roles and ideals, compose the scripts, and author the sagas of our own futures and that of the environment around us. While we cannot necessarily control the circumstances and influences that present themselves to us in the course of living, we can choose how we will respond to them when they do arise. Our power of choice is our sole control in the world.
With each new paragraph, each turn of the page, each new dawn, each new season, each moment in time, each blink of the eye, each beat of the heart, we are gifted with another opportunity to exercise our right to choose.
Coffee or tea? Lemon or milk? Right or left? Stairs or elevator? Vacuum? Vote? Cheat? Trust? Care? Dare? Change?
What paths we take, what decisions we make influence how the story will proceed and who we will be from this day forth. As George Eliot reminds us, “The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.”
The difficult times that we encounter in our lives might tempt us to dull our senses and opt out of any upsetting experiences, choosing not to let things “get to us.” We often try to ignore the hard parts — pain, fear, guilt, grief, confusion, anger, and disappointment — dilute their impact, drown them out in an endless list of pleasurable addictions: soporifics, anesthetics, mood enhancers, caffeine, food, hormones. We can even turn ourselves off altogether.
We don’t have to engage in the emotional upheaval. Nobody is making us. We could choose to drink cabernet and watch Public Television, play cards, play bingo, play it safe, every night for the rest of our lives if we wanted to. It is an option.
It is ultimately up to us whether we succumb to the unexamined life or try to figure out what the hell is going on inside us and around us, and engage in it, alter, change and grow with it, so that we might fulfill our greatest destiny and dreams.
You need only to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.
– Florida Scott-Maxwell
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.