“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”
– Melody Beattie
Write about the first time you did something that is now more or less second nature. (An example from my life would be eating out alone or praying to name two.)
It is spring and there is a new writing group on the horizon. Six weeks of memoir writing, which means twelve new prompts.
Our theme this session is Choices and What Ifs. Over the course of our lives, there are so many of those big and little choices that take us where we go, sometimes where we long to go, and sometimes where we have to go.
As the Doctor (Who) says, “We don’t always go where we want to, but we do go where we need to.”
Nothing could be more true than my life in the past almost decade or so.
We all have those moments – should we turn left? Or right?
Go to college or get married? Or both?
Have children or wait?
Eat that cheeseburger or grab a salad?
So many seemingly unrelated choices that form our reality.
But what if we had turned right instead of left?
Taken that gap year to Europe?
Lived impulsively or more prudently?
Here’s our chance to explore those choices and remind us of the ones we did take, and where we are now.
It’s not simply about regret or justification; it’s so much deeper than that.
The first prompt is an assignment. It was the first one I was given at the start of this session.
Make a list of life choices.
They are not necessarily things you would change or keep. We’re not there yet. Just the choices in your life.
For an example, here are three of mine (of a much longer list):
1. Choosing a major for college
2. Reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
3. Attending a political protest
They seem innocent enough, but have all had a major impact on my life and future choices.
As Lin-Manuel [Miranda] said in his commencement address at UPenn this past weekend, “we choose the stories we tell.” That is wholly true, but those stories are shaped by what we choose to do in our lives.
I will tell you about my life this week. It is a ridiculously busy week. Even the calendar is cluttered. I made a list of everything on my calendar from Sunday the 15th until Saturday the 21st. Assuming I wrote everything down, that’s twenty-five things. Although I forgot to include the Target run for household goods and grocery shopping plus two trips this week to The Fresh Market for their specials that are only available on certain days. I also didn’t include my son’s girlfriend visiting us this weekend for the first time. Oh crap! What are we going to make for dinner?!
All but one of the television shows on that list are for the entire family’s viewing. It’s season finales for many of them this week and next. Not listed are writing group assignments, three greeting cards that need to be written out and sent and my journal submission for one class. I also need to clean my house.
So I guess that makes it thirty-four in actuality.
As of this writing, I’ve accomplished the first nine, skipped three and will complete two more tonight plus start another one. I’ve crossed five out as conflicts with more important things that either need to be done or that I would rather do. [Watch my son get a scholarship award at his college and meet a friend of my husband’s visiting from Amsterdam for instance. My daughter also has a concert with her school’s chorus.] All on Thursday.
We will postpone Thursday’s TV until Friday, on demand, or on the CW app.
We will be late to my daughter’s concert and I kind of invited my son’s girlfriend over this weekend without telling anyone, thinking that my son would postpone it until next week. As I said earlier, it’s happening this week.
The Yartzeit for my Dad was a day late, and I didn’t go to mass this morning.
Did I forget to list that I need a couple (or more) of showers on that list?
So, we choose.
And we choose and we adjust our lives and whether through facebook or writing class or the stories we tell our friends, we are constantly making choices.
To pick the best one; the funniest one, the one with the lesson learned or the embarrassing one that we finally find funny.
Whichever one we choose they are our stories; your stories.
Choose them well.