Decision Season

illustration by Chi-Yun Lau

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both / And be one traveler, long I stood / And looked down one as far as I could / To where it bent in the undergrowth….”

It’s that time of year. Perhaps it is related to the blossoming of spring, warm weather here in D.C., the sudden feeling of everyone being outside and looking outward for the first time in months. But it’s also what I’ve noticed in myself and with many of those around me–it’s decision season.

A neighbor’s son is deliberating about where to go for college, having been accepted into multiple good schools.

Many colleagues are in the midst of making plans for new ministries to begin this summer and preparing for moves to new towns (myself and my partner included)–so many small and significant decisions involved in all that. Others are deliberating this week about whether or not to continue seeking a new post, with a long list of congregations going into  2nd-round search this year.

For people involved in organizations of many sorts, it is already time to look ahead to fall, to “the next year,” and start planning, taking into account new directions, new goals, and what approaches may need to be left behind or discontinued.

A couple of old friends/girlfriends have surfaced in my life in random and unexpected ways this past week, causing me to wonder: what is she up to now? What is her life like?

We’re approaching graduation season and one of our most beloved babysitters is facing the big questions of “what comes next?”

….All of this just has me thinking about how our life is a constant series of decisions, a very literal Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. We are privileged and lucky if and when we feel like we have more than a few good choices. And all the decision-making can’t help but result in some wondering about “what if…?” What if I’d gone that way, or hadn’t left that relationship, what if I’d chosen to go there for school, or studied this instead of that, professionally…..

For me the reveries keep ending in gratitude for all that is, in my life, and a new determination to savor the present moment. When I step back and survey all the places I could have made some other choice, I return to my life as it is with fresh energy to step into it, to embrace it. I truly believe, as I said to our neighbor’s son, that it’s not where we go to school that ultimately matters, it’s what we do with the time we spend there. Pretty much that’s what I think about life in general. It’s what we make of it. So I come to gratitude, simple affirmation, and contentment. My body, my life, my relationships, this incredible family, our messy home, this complex and amazing vocation. This is the path I’m on, neither the one more or less “traveled by,” but genuinely mine. Embracing that is what has made all the difference.

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