Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Word for the Day: Choices


It’s been my good fortune to have spent much of my adult life working as a teacher, stage director, and sometimes mentor to young adults. I prefer that term to “teenager,” because yes, they are in their teen years, but they are working hard to become adults. And it’s a difficult job, as I well remember.

Looking back over a long life, I recall how I struggled with growing up. I really would have preferred to stay a little girl, safe and secure in a very stable family, but that was not a choice I could make. Life doesn’t work that way. Many of my young adult friends are at a time in their lives when they are making decisions about college … whether to attend, what college to attend, what field of study to choose. I know I had a difficult time with that. Music had always been part of my life and it seemed logical I would continue with it in college. I also had a great love of history, and still do, and that field appealed to me as well.

I sometimes tell my voice students that “you don’t choose music; music chooses you,” and that may very well be true. It seems to be a passion we are born with, and it won’t be denied. In the end, that was my “choice” and music has been my life ever since. I feel very fortunate this is true, because I see music as the most powerful force in the universe. Attending the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati was a choice I made. I had visited other schools, but this one appealed to me as no other had.

All of us are constantly faced with choices. I’m sure all of us look back and think given the opportunity, we might choose differently than we did at the time. All of us have made good choices and bad choices. We wouldn’t be human if we hadn’t. I recall reading not too long ago something to the effect: “the moment of absolute certainty seldom comes. Make the choice and move forward.” No doubt, good advice; but some bad choices are difficult to live with.

Whatever choice you made, it was your choice. Chances are you weren’t forced to choose one way or the other. More important is to accept that you made the choice, and it’s your responsibility to make the best of it. Sadly, some people today don’t want to do that … “it wasn’t my fault.” Are you sure about that? If you choose to blame someone for a bad choice you made, does that mean you will give credit to another person for a good choice you made? We are responsible for ourselves in this life.

Sometimes circumstances are thrust upon us that we have no control over: someone we love dies; we are in a terrible accident and lose a limb. Or our vision. Or our hearing. No one would choose for these things to happen. The choice in these instances is how we deal with these tragedies. From time to time I see a quote that I like very much: When something bad happens, you can choose to do one of three things … let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

It’s easy to look back and say, “If I had known then what I know now, I would have handled that differently. I would have made a different choice.” Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, either. Those are lessons learned: sometimes very difficult lessons. But I choose to believe that is why we are here – to learn.  

Back to my young adult friends who are faced with an important choice during their senior year in high school. This is the first of many life choices they will have facing them. Make the choice, and then choose to try to make it work. Try your hardest. Never stop trying.

And never stop learning.

First published April, 2014