Friday, November 28, 2003

Choose Your Own Adventure

Sam: "Lets face it Mr. Frodo. We're lost. I don't think Gandalf meant for us to come this way."

Frodo: "He didn't mean for a lot of things to happen Sam. But they did."

Growing up I read many a Choose Your Own Adventure book. However, I must confess, a majority of the choices made in my adventures were prompted by peeking ahead to discern the proper path to the desired conclusion. God, I wish life were that easy. Unfortunately, we can make all the choices deemed proper to reach our desired ends, but in the end, who knows where tomorrow will lead?

Sometimes (ok, multiple times daily) I wish I possessed the ability to peek ahead at life in order to have the foresight with which to choose the proper path to my desired end. If only I could see what lies around the next corner, or the next decade; or if a next decade, or corner, for that matter, even exist.

You see, even if you made it through to the end of the book, the adventure eventually ended. No matter which path you wandered down, a story already existed. No matter how cleverly orchestrated your path through the story; an end eventually lay around the turn of a page. The only way to truly create your own adventure lies not in your hands, but in your mind, in your imagination. To make our own adventures, we need not pick up time-stained books and peek through dog-eared pages to see what options suit us best. Rather, we need to dust off the too frequently abused and misused grey matter inside our own heads and dare to imagine routes to happiness and freedom not yet discovered by author or dreamer.

Granted, a certain portion of our lives lie in front of us, pre-planned. Before we even knew breath or beat, some cartographer mapped out our futures. Our DNA, for example, plays a large part in our formation and deterioration. In some fashion, personally, or through the illness of family or friends, everyone I know has faced, is facing, or will face the affects of some form of cancer. For me, I have seen two aunts, a mom and a grandma struggle with this disease over the past 7 years. Maybe more, who knows? And these are just in my direct family; there are still the families of friends. I’ve also had another grandmother seized by mental illness, not to mention the rampant alcoholism on both sides of the gene pool (or shall I say, gene wet bar).

I could look at this backdrop in despair. What chance have I with genetic makeup such as this? And yet, some choice still remains in my corner. In my adventure, I choose not the disabling vices of my ancestry, but their unmitigated strength in overcoming the seemingly impossible. The Choose Your Own Adventure of my life may have a set binding with predetermined outcomes, but with the means left to me I choose joy for today and tomorrow for the unknown.