January 29, 2012

Life and Luck

I was reading through some old emails yesterday, cleaning out stuff I didn't want to keep, recalling conversations long past, and occasionally asking myself "What, exactly, was the purpose for keeping this email?"

One that got my brain working was a discussion an old pal and I had over pictures from my mountain climbing vacation to the Alps a couple years ago.

In March of 2008, my climbing pal Aaron called me one night, asking "Hey, what do you think about making a trip to the Alps to climb Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn?" I agreed after three-tenths of a second of consideration, because it sounded like fun. After all, I was unemployed at the time, living on a little consulting work, a little teaching, and a lot of dipping into savings. Given those circumstances, who wouldn't jump at the chance to spend two weeks in Switzerland and Italy and France, climbing mountains?

The trip was great, and we took plenty of pictures. Posted those pics on line, and my friend remarked on one of them "Wow, how did you get so lucky to be able to do this?"

Lucky? No. No luck. Luck had nothing to do with it.

Being able to make that trip was a combination of hard work, sacrifice, and the choices I made in life.

I explained this to my friend, and he replied that he worked hard, he sacrificed, and he didn't have that choice. He would never have the chance to go to the Alps. Here's my reply to him:

"Yeah, but you don't see what I'm saying. I made the choice after college to NOT get married right away and start having kids. You did. You got married right after college, and had three children before you were 30. I didn't. Now, you may never get to see the Alps. You may never have the chance to take two weeks and go climbing, skiing, and hiking in the mountains. That's the result of the choices you made. In contrast, I'll never have the chance to change my child's diaper, watch her take her first steps, teach a son how to play catch, see them off to school for the first day. I'll never have a 'World's Best Dad' coffee mug. I'll never know what it is like to question my daughter's date, or what it's like to stay up past midnight, waiting for the sound of a teenager trying to sneak in late. I'll never walk my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, or hold my grandson. Those are all things that your choices will bring to you. I made my choices, and because of them I get to go to the Alps on a whim. But there are other things that my choices will deny me, because that's how it works."

We are the sum total of our choices in life. Each choice has an upside and a downside.

Luck has nothing to do with it.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Well said, and oh so true... And the grass 'always' looks greener on the other side (to some people)!