Our Sea of Choices

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories

Quotes are a lens which brings life into focus some times. The movie Gladiator has a few of these quotes. “What we do in this life echoes throughout eternity.” I think these are good words to live by and though I’ve doubted the existence of eternity in the past, I’ve come to feel that believing in it is a blanket which keeps out the cold of the world sometimes. And like consequences, some things exist whether or not you believe in them. If eternity does exist, I want my choices to be something that I can be proud of.

So it all comes down to choices. I’m at a point in my life where I can look back on the portfolio of my life and examine how I’ve been doing, what I’ve done and the ping pong action of choices effecting the overall game. A few years ago, I used to drink with a girlfriend and our friends. But I lost control one night and never got drunk again. By not drinking, I lost the girlfriend, lost the friends, but I feel better and now I don’t feel like I have to blame my actions on some outside influence. I like that freedom and I like being able to take charge of my choices since I can now see how my life had changed because of them. And life is full of enough conditions that blind side you that having a little control over your section of the world make things a little easier when the storms come.

But again I’ve lost something. A remarkable girl. An opportunity for happiness. The choices I’ve made, my life in a nutshell, and the direction I’m headed in are all factors in this loss. Up until now I’ve been comfortable with my choices, for the most part. But now I’ve lost this thing I want and it’s because of everything I’ve done. She represents the traditional “good” and within that framework, I’m the stereotypical prodigal son. I feel that I’m ready to come home in order to have this girl, this woman in my life. But that would lead me into a whole new direction. Again I have a crisis of conscience. Am I doing things wrong? Will I suffer in the long run or am I on the track that is best for me. Am I supposed to be on a track that is best for me? Or am I supposed to live for others?

“To thine own self be true,” is a Shakespeare quote that I’ve heard my whole life. “You are responsible for your own immortal soul,” my mother often said. I’m a man on a boat in the ocean. And I’ve seen things and done things which have steered my course more or less in the direction I feel is right and good. But am I actually going anywhere? Or am I just surviving and maintaining this course because it’s selfishly easier?

Her choices have lead her to this same point. She’s lost something too I think though our time together. Have her choices made it impossible for us to be together? Can they be looked at individually like that? Can my choices?

Only together do our choices make our lives incompatible. Our directions are different, but we both long to jump on each others boats. Should I give up my heading and sail along with her? Should she? Or should we do as we have and sail on to different sunsets? There are wakes behind us that mix together in a smokey kiss. Waves of music, talking hands and kisses echo around this time and place, glinting in the light. The ocean conspires to keep us apart.

I’m leaning far out from my boat straining to see every last glimpse of her eyes across the sea, sailing away.

  1. crysOakleee March 12, 2007

    Choices, made from our own free will, do lead each of us to the places we are in life. Each one’s choice must be illuminated by the guide of his/her conscience which is formed over the course of a lifetime. Always our choices must direct us toward a higher good – for ourselves, for those we care about, for humanity. Never can they be for immediate gratification and/or to please another. Else one could not respect oneself nor help resenting another.

    And so the burden is with forming our conscience. If begun wrong, in childhood, life can be a muddle or a series of mistakes. (Let’s be honest, life is a series of mistakes anyway! But also a sequence of good too.) But are the rules of our youth to be our guide through adulthood? Does not each one of us have a responsibility to examine his/her actions objectively while searching for transcendant Truth as the ultimate guide? Truth that transcends what any one man can tell us is right our wrong, but rather exists in the very cores of our beings, in the fabric of nature, in the melody of the world symphony. And how do we, individuals blinded by our own desires, by the urgings of our fellow man, by the wiles of the world, how do we have eyes to see this transcendant Truth? Ah, sometimes we feel it move deep within us – in moments, split seconds in time or not in time at all – when we realize the choice we are making, the vision we are seeing, the love we are giving, the beauty we are witnessing is GOOD. It resonates with every part of our being (physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological, spiritual).
    But these glimpses are few and far between, are they not? It seems like most of life is spent wondering if our choices were the right ones and hoping we’ll figure it out sooner or later if they weren’t. And in the meantime it hurts. It just hurts.

    Good luck to you in your decision making and in your wonder over this girl and her choices. Remember that neither one of you can choose to follow a path that does not resonate with what you think to be true in the core of your being and still call yourself honest. But both of you must examine the guides that have led you to make the decisions you have and ask yourselves honestly, free from selfishness, if they are true and if they need to be tweaked. Do the guides of your conscience coincide with the world symphony, or are they false sign posts of your own making, the better to fit into your little box of how you think the world is. Be open! Think big! Dare to imagine you could be wrong!

  2. crysOakleee March 12, 2007

    By the way, if this girl is so “traditionally good” as you’ve described her and as I have trouble believing she could be, why do the actions of your past make a whit of difference to your future? If your “heading” is aimed at the good (or is it? where are you headed anyway?) and if she is aiming for the good, then aren’t you going in the same direction? Sounds to me like you’re both in a muddle and I hope you both stub your toes! (And if you say something about goodness being relative to each individual perspective, I’m going to wish more than a stubbed toe on you; also I would suggest reading Plato’s Repulic.)

  3. Jon Hillenbrand March 13, 2007

    Beautifully written, Crystal. You are an artist with words.

    It would be easier if the right choice glowed blue and vibrated like a tuning fork. And yes, we are both heading toward the good and the past does not matter. But there are a few giant elephants sitting in the room, and we can only ignore them for so long.

    Maybe in a few years, those elephants won’t exist and some serious Life mingling can be pursued.


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