Life is full of choices. People spend a lot of time worrying about whether they’re making the right ones. I’ve spent hours trying to make decisions by writing about the different possibilities, talking about them with friends and family, making pro and con lists, and so on. My characters do this too. In Wrong All Along, Lorylyn panics over breaking up with Brady because even though their relationship can’t go on as it is, she knows letting him go now could mean losing him long-term, and she still loves him. In Love Means Zero, Hilton has to choose whether to pursue her dream life and career of traveling and taking pictures at the expense of her dream relationship with Luke.
Choices almost always involve a risk…letting go of one thing for the hope of something else. So you wonder, what if it doesn’t turn out like I want? Then I will have made the wrong choice and gotten nothing. And maybe lost out on something pretty big.
But I believe that a lot of the time, there’s not really a right or a wrong choice. It’s not the situations you put yourself in that cause happiness or unhappiness; it’s your thoughts and actions regarding those situations. If you make a choice but are consumed by doubt about it, you probably won’t do your best to live it out to the fullest. You have lingering what ifs bogging you down. And that leads you to believe you made the wrong choice…and even to doubt your future choices. In this case, you did make the wrong choice…about not having confidence in your original choice!
I heard a quote last summer by Earl Reum, a motivational speaker and great advocate for student leadership. He said, “Make a decision, and then make it the right one.” What he meant was, when you make choices, you need to put your all into them and get everything you can out of them. No doubts, no regrets.
One of my all-time favorite songs is “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. The title of this post is a line from the song. “Every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser.” It’s true…in poker. A hand without even a pair can be a winner. If you choose to bluff and do it well enough to scare off the player with a flush, you will take the pot. And if you’re the player with the great hand who just got scared and folded…well, that just proves every hand can be a loser too.
And isn’t it also true in life? Take Lorylyn. If she stays with Brady, she’ll be winning in that she won’t have to let go of him and can try to improve their relationship. Or, she’ll be losing in that she could continue to feel their relationship is a compromise because it doesn’t match her idea of love. If she breaks up with him, she’ll be winning because she won’t be compromising, and maybe she’ll meet someone else. But she’ll be losing him, possibly for good, and she’s really not ready to even think about meeting anyone else.
“The Gambler” offers a further bit of wisdom, telling us “every gambler knows / the secret to surviving / is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”
Since, of course, every hand can be both a winner and a loser.
So how the hell do you know which hands to throw away and which to keep? Which hand to pick as your winner?
Well, if you go back to making a decision and then making it the right one, I think you find the answer in realizing what you’ll have to do to make that hand a winner. How hard will you have to work, and is it worth your time and effort? For Lorylyn, how can she improve her relationship with Brady? Is it worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? Or, if she breaks up with him, how can she go about finding a better relationship? Is that worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? And which scenario feels like the real win?
Or, maybe you’ll find the answer in what could make that hand a loser. What can you absolutely not stand to lose? For Hilton, can she imagine her life traveling the world and taking pictures…but without Luke? Or can she imagine herself in an amazing relationship with the guy she considers the love of her life…but lacking professional and creative satisfaction?
I recently got to hear a Mount Everest climber named John Beede speak about the experiences that led to his successful summit. He had a college professor who assigned students to write down 100 goals for their lives, which is what started him on his quest. He encouraged those of us listening to do the same…write down our goals. So I did. I didn’t get all the way to 100, but I got down some good, specific ones.
So now I have a choice. And the ironic thing is, whichever hand I pick as my winner will probably move me toward one of my biggest goals and farther away from one of my others. So I have to think, which choice can I make that will still allow me to meet the other goal, just maybe in a different fashion? And ultimately…which one is worth the risk it involves? Which one am I willing to give 100% unyielding effort to, once I’ve chosen it, to make it a winning hand?
Whichever one I choose, it’ll become my next postcard, one piece of the story of my life, the moment I’m living in that I would die for. (Go here for my theory on postcards: https://authordaisyjordan.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/the-crazy-thing-about-postcards/.) So I’m pretty excited to make my choice, and then to make the most of it. 🙂