Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Choices We Make


Are believing in 'free will' and 'things happen the way they are supposed to' philosophically compatible?
Having a granddaughter in the house for a couple days makes me remember when I was her age. She has spent a lot of her time on facebook and texting her friends. She's much more interested in her friends (boy & girl) than her grandparents, which I totally understand. (Deise is pictured here with her Grandpa Bud at Lake Icaria last summer.)
Fifty years ago my steady boyfriend left for six months National Guard training first at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri then to Fort Jackson in South Carolina. I missed him. We didn't have texting or the internet. I had to wait until he got to camp, received his post address and wrote to me before I could write to him. He wasn't even allowed to call during the first few weeks.
Kenny's brothers and their girlfriends were nice enough to come and get me and include me in their parties, but it wasn't the same without him there. I went with Jim & Joan, Gary & Judy and Carm to a wiener roast at Botkin's July 3rd - the night after Kenny left on the train. "Carm & Ronnie went to Creston. The rest brought me home - 10:40." Each night's diary entry included: 'Tonight's Song'. The song that night was Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely" which fitted my mood perfectly.
Those lyrics included "maybe tomorrow a new romance, no more sorrow but that's the chance - you gotta' take". I was still wearing Kenny's class ring. I had promised to be true - to wait for him. But that didn't mean I couldn't run around with my girlfriends that summer and flirt with other guys, which from reading my diary I did plenty of.
Then a month after Kenny left, my chance for a new romance - the son of a woman I knew from church called and asked me out. His folks were divorced and he lived in Mt. Ayr with his grandparents. He was in the Fairview area visiting his Mom. I had met him once previously and she knew I had had a crush on him. She encouraged him to call me and ask me out. I accepted without first talking to my Mom. She and Dad were both upset with me for 'stepping out' on Kenny while still wearing his ring.
The date was a one-time deal. The guy was going steady with his long-time girlfriend and I with my boyfriend. But what if we had hit if off? What if I had ended up with him instead of Doug's dad? These kind of philosophical questions are the ones that intrigue me. - The choices we make and the consequences.
My brother's novel deals with such questions, I think, in that if time travel was possible we couldn't go back and alter anything or that would completely change the future. (Doug wouldn't be here if I hadn't waited for Kenny.) That doesn't mean we can't wonder how our lives might have been different based upon our choices fifty years ago (or five minutes ago). So is it choice or destiny or a combination?
Those what ifs.......

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