For every action there is a consequence, this is not the same as Newton’s Third Law; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In fact, what I just said is quite different, consequences may not be equal to actions, may seem entirely unrelated on the surface, nevertheless when we peel back the covers it is apparent even for the most obtuse to see. We make choices, those choices lead sometimes to intended outcomes and all too often to unintended consequences. Here are some examples:
- One day I stopped for gas and cigarettes. Nothing special did it often with nothing more to show for it than a lighter wallet and a few minutes delay in my arrival home. The consequence of this night, this stop was life changing for many others and me. The consequence of this night set my feet on a path it would be years in the making.
- One day I picked up the phone and made a phone call, all I wanted was medical information. I was an adopted child you see and was tired of being asked if certain medical conditions ran in my family each time I saw a new doctor. I could only answer, “I didn’t know”. When they called me back to tell me I could open the file, there were letters of consent it didn’t take me long to decide.
- One day I said, “Enough, you may not treat me this way any longer”. I said these words to an employer, one who believed in the power of his penis over equality, equity, fair play and ethics in business. How was I to know this simple statement would create so many ripples in the workplace. Did I say ripples? Let me rephrase that, how was I to know it would create such a witch-hunt with me at the center.
There are so many small things, so many actions or choices we make each day sometimes without even thinking. Yet, each of our choices at any time could carry huge consequence for our own lives or for those around us. We just never know, never consider how our actions might influence the future. Some of us, me included at times walk through life completely unaware.
How did each of the above choices change my life?
- Anyone who has been reading my blog knows what that night was, it was the night I was kidnapped / carjacked, shot three times and left for dead. Now overall that was a pretty crappy night. The upshot of all that pain though was finding a mission, becoming more aware of what is wrong with society and why we need to fix it from the inside out. Victim Impact is only one part of that mission, it is important and every year I am glad I speak out. But, even more important is lending my voice to justice, equality and education programs.
- I have told small snippets of the story of meeting my biological family in these pages. Not the entire story but some of it, there is more to tell and perhaps with their permission one of these days I will tell some of these stories.The impact on my siblings in me finding them, of me reentering the family was not entirely positive on any of us. It has taken thirty years to smooth the rough edges; some of them still aren’t smooth. Some of them might never be, but some of us are getting there.
- The upshot? I sued and won. I also haven’t had a ‘real’ job since then. It is a scary thing to say, especially at my age. Oh sure, I can say I am my own boss. I can say I am an Independent Consultant. I can say those things with pride most of the time, but the reality is; in this economy, in my industry, as a woman, at my age it is scary as hell out here.
Each of us can look at choices we make every day, we can mull them over until our heads hurt with thinking, or we can jump in with both feet and hope for the best. Each of the actions above are different types of choice: (1) Everyday choice, thoughtless; (2) Reflective choice; (3) Angry choice, not made in anger but because of anger.
Most of us do not have the prescience to know how our choices will influence our days let alone the decades to come, if we did we might find life quite boring. Do any of us think through our every choice, our every stop along the way? Or instead do we stumble along, hoping, as we grow older, wiser and more mature we will be better able to make choices without too often stumbling into the potholes on our path.
I know for me, the fissures still seem to catch my heels; I stumble frequently. My foot still seems to be stuffed in my mouth more often than I would like. My fears still seem to catch up to me and I am still all too frequently second guessing myself. The one thing I do know, I am not malicious in my choices I don’t make them selfishly. I have finally figured out I can’t fix everyone, can’t even always make choices that will make everyone happy. Some people will never see the light of day. They will always choose their ass over sunlight; I cannot fix this, not even with the crowbar of love.