I am not usually wishy-washy. Which is why it was strange that I found myself stopped at the exit of the bank drive-through today, paralyzed by indecision.
I wondered, “Should I turn left or right?”
Out of nowhere it struck me that this little choice could have far-flung consequences. What if I turned left and was hit by a truck? Or what if I turned right and ran somebody over?
What if I ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
You hear about people who are kept, either by accident or design, from boarding a plane that ends up going down in flames. How they must shiver at what might have been, and marvel, probably for the rest of their lives, at their narrow escape.
But that is rare. We usually don’t get to know which of our choices might have saved our lives, or put us in harm’s way – how close we came to disaster, or to once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
How much of our lives is random chance?
If I had spent $1 on a lottery ticket the last time I was at the gas station, might I have been the lucky one to win millions? Why have I NOT been hit by falling debris from a disintegrating satellite?
How do we choose when to zig instead of zag?
Deciding which way to turn is a minor decision, one of dozens – maybe hundreds? – I make every day. It’s no big deal. Perhaps the question of choices and randomness hit me more today because it is my birthday. The fact that I am 52 years old has me a little adrift.
All this ran through my head during the 20 seconds I was stopped at the exit of the bank drive-through. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but in the busy pace of daily life, it is an eternity. It was long enough for the woman behind me to become impatient. She was, no doubt, eager to get on with the business of making her own random life choices. A blast of her horn brought me back to the here and now.
I took a deep breath and turned left.
Was that the right decision? I don’t know. But I won’t mourn the turn not taken. We have to choose our turns and drive on down that road, every day.