Decisions, decisions, decisions…life is full of fun, interesting, difficult, painful, and exciting decisions.
In his book, All the Places to Go, John Ortberg cites a study that found that the average person makes about 70 conscious decisions per day. These make up the 25,550 mundane, important, and life sustaining decisions we make per year. For a person who lasts seventy years, those 1,788,500 decisions make up who they are as a person. As Albert Camus said, “Life is a sum of all your choices.”
This weekend, on a simple trail like the one above, it was illustrated for me how impactful a seemingly insignificant decision can be. Our family was walking along the Price Lake Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway, enjoying a beautiful fall day. My 9 year old son was leading the way and we came to a fork in the trail. You couldn’t really see the end to either side, but there didn’t seem to be room for a true ‘fork’ so he said “you go that way and I’ll go this way daddy and we’ll meet up on the other side.” And that is what we did – we both walked maybe 20 yards and then the two trails came back together and we walked on. Maybe a half a mile later, we came to another fork and Jack again said, “let’s go both ways again and meet up.” Only this time the trails didn’t come back together. As soon as it went out of view, my trail veered off sharply, seemingly going somewhere else. As my son blissfully continued on the main path, it was clear to me that my path was not going to loop back around and reconnect. Because I’ve made roughly 792,149 more decisions in my life than my son, my experience told me that I’d better stop and turn around, return to the main trail, and catch up with my family before either I got lost or they got worried.
Our decisions in life are often the same. Some of them we think are going to be so impactful and we worry over them, pray over them, and over think them. Then we get a few steps into the decision and realize it brings us back to the path we were on and we move comfortably along. Other times, in a moment of comfort or on a whim, we make what seems to be an insignificant decision and move down a path that ends up taking us in a completely different direction. Sometimes we have the opportunity to backtrack to the main trail, but other times we end up just going a different direction and by the time we realize it, it has become our new path.
I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life, well over a million I’d surmise. Some of them have been good and beneficial and others have been painful and hard. But every one of them has made me who I am. As I continue forward on my life’s path, I think I’ll keep in mind that each decision, large and small, is impactful to who I am becoming. Being mindful of this won’t avoid hurt, pain, and sorrow, to be sure. Being mindful of my decisions will, however, make me more self-aware of what it is that makes me the person I am and the person I will become.