If you think you can escape life without a few scars, you’re not really living it. Learn new things, go new places, open up your world.
“Everyone has choices to make; no one has the right to take those choices away from us. Not even out of love..” Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes
Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely? (Daily Prompt: 32 Flavors) Yay, an ice cream question! But it could just as easily be saying – Black or White, Right or Wrong, or a million shades of grey?
The minute we open our eyes in the morning we’re faced with choices – simple, complicated, life defining, meaningless. Sometimes we think we don’t have a choice, but that just means we’ve already made up our mind about whatever it is. And that’s our choice. Other times the shere number of choices available is overwhelming and paralysing, so we cross our fingers, close our eyes and point, hoping for the best.
On the grand decision-making scale, which starts at wishy-washy and goes all the way to carved in stone, I like to think of myself as being somewhere in the middle with a fair and open mind. (Hey, it’s my choice to believe whatever I want about myself, even if I’m wrong, right?) But I do think it’s important to listen to more than one side of a story, to consider sources, and to respect the choices that other people make. None of us that I know of has reached the point in life where there is nothing left for us to learn.
I once read off all the flavours listed on the board at a Baskin-Robbins store at the request of my then five year old daughter so that she could decide what kind she wanted. I thought she might choose oreo cookies and cream, pink bubblegum, rainbow, strawberry shortcake or cotton candy. She was a little girl in love with hot pink, lime green, every shade of purple, and eating drink crystals directly from the package. But what do mothers really know? Not everything, that’s for sure. Except it’s a given that their kids will constantly surprise them. When I finished reading the long list I was prepared to make a shorter one to help her decide, but she only needed to hear it once. I’ll just have vanilla, she told me. (Really? That’s the perfectly white ice cream with nothing in it, you know.) I know, that’s the one I want. And so that’s the one she got.
I suspect it was the one she knew she would be getting in the first place, and the recital of the ice cream flavour list was merely to satisfy her curiosity as to what else was out there. Or purely to make her mother do something time-consuming and ultimately useless in the name of love. Now she’s much more an adult of the “something else entirely” genre. But still making her own informed choices and living with them. It’s all any of us really want for ourselves. My own ice cream choice has always been boringly predictable – chocolate in some form or other; fudge brownie, jamoca almond fudge, tin roof, rocky road. It’s lovely to have some chocolate choices, but it’s all still chocolate at the end of the day.
What a luxury it is for us, to live in a world where there are so many choices and where we are free to do what we want to do, and be who we want to be. Even when there are limits imposed, no one can tell us how we must react, or make us feel any way other than how we ultimately choose to feel. Maybe one of these days I’ll go way out on a limb and try baseball nut. or lemon custard. Or maybe I won’t. It’s my choice. And how wonderful it is to be able to make it.
There’s an old stick-in-the-mud in everyones Family Tree. You don’t need to be the one who fills that role.
The things on this list are not to be mistaken for those scary Universal Truths people are always going on about. I would never be that presumptuous. Well actually I would but then this list would be considerably less credible. So it’s strictly stuff that is constant in my subjective reality. Believe it if you dare.
1. When W calls me from the island, he is sitting on the deck, looking out over the water, and downing copious amounts of rum. I know this is true, because it’s exactly what he tells me. Every time. It’s of course possible that this is how he spends his entire day, with or without making a phone call.
2. Everyone I know and everyone I meet just wants deep down to be GOOD. At something, with something, for something. They want to be good to someone, or do something good for the world. Some are better at this than others. Some will end up good at being bad, or good for nothing. But GOOD nonetheless.
3. No matter how hard you work or how hard you try, some lunatic manager/boss type person is always going to ask you to try harder, to be more, to do more and to get better. (And thus make him/her look better in the process.) Resist the urge to choke this nutcase and don’t make excuses; just smile and nod and promise you will. It’s not really a lie if you don’t mention “when” you’re going to get around to it.
4. The harder it is to learn something, the longer you’ll remember it. Because you sure as hell don’t want to go through THAT again.
5. You’ll never fully appreciate what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. And even then you’ll rationalize it to death.
6. Nothing is ever as simple as it first appears. If it looks complex from the get go, you’re in big trouble.
7. People tend to hate what they don’t understand, and fear what they hate, and then they can’t understand why they’re so afraid. And hateful. And bloody confused. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s hell.
8. Love can hurt, but it’s always worth the pain. As long as you get to be the one inflicting it at some point, it will all even out in the end. No one gets out of being in love unscathed. Just like no one gets out of life alive.
9. Upside down and downside up are the very same thing.
10. Because it’s in the last place it was left, you will always find what you lost in the last place you look. And if you never find it, it’s because you gave up before you got to that last place. Or some idiot destroyed it. One or the other.
I’ve finished reading Joe Golem and the Drowning City, by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, and it was everything promised on the back cover and more. Steampunk turns out to be a genre I quite like. Except maybe don’t read it while you’re eating.