The Choices We Make
Years ago when I was a student teacher in a fourth-grade classroom. I did an exercise with my students that involved making a long paper “chain of events.” The students had been reading a book and I wanted them to grasp the impact that each event in the story had on the ending. They made a paper chain; each link representing one of the events. The chain went the entire way around our classroom two times. I then, with a simple swipe of the scissors removed one link. The chain was broken and the students had to determine their own ending to the story.
I thought of that paper chain the other day as I was having dinner with my twenty-one-year-old son. I realized that the young man sitting before me was the product of his own chain of events. Some events he had control over, others he did not. But each event in his life created the story of who he is and who he will become.
Thinking of my son’s life in this way made me realize the impact of my choices. As a young parent, I know that I made some choices that affected my children negatively. I also know that there were many that affected them positively. Any single change or different choice would have changed the man sitting in front of me.
Recognizing this has made me aware of the responsibility we have in our choices; not only to our children but to one another. Each individual choice we make impacts those around us. When we decide to take the easy way out it may result in some instant gratification on a personal level, but what impact does it have on society as a whole, on our coworkers, or our family? If we stop and think about each choice we make in the context of the larger “chain of events” would we make the same choices?
More importantly, are we even willing to look at how our choices affect others? It is always easier to be ego centric and focus on our own needs and wants. When we take our ego out of it we open ourselves to limitless possibilities. Keeping ego at bay allows us to reach our full potential and it allows us to have a positive influence on others.
As our dinner came to an end and we finished our wine, I looked into the eyes of an amazing young man. He has used the events in his life to lead him to his own passions in Boulder, CO. But as his parent, I know that some of my choices caused his journey to be difficult.
As I have grown, I have continued to work on keeping ego out of my choices. I consider myself very lucky that the choices I made as a very young mother did not cause irreparable harm. Self-awareness comes with time and experience. Each choice we make and every thought we have along the way creates our paper chain of events. And like my fourth graders, we each have the ability to decide how our story ends.