Sunday, January 8, 2017

Choices, Chance, and Monopoly

A few weeks ago, my grandson went to the closet where we keep our games and came out with a vintage Monopoly game. I hadn’t played the game since I was a kid and sure didn’t remember anything about it or the rules. My grandson gave “money” to Harold and me and the game began. It turned out to be a game of choices and chance. The roll of the dice could give you a chance to purchase properties, pay rent or taxes, draw a “chance” or “community chest” card, or maybe “go to jail.” It didn’t take long for me to find out what the expression, “do not pass go,” meant.

My son, who was watching us play, noticed something rather peculiar. “Mom, you are being so cautious about what you spend, and Harold is buying without a second thought. That’s totally the opposite of how you are in real life.” I had to agree.  

Spending habits aside, the game made me think about how each of us has a monopoly on our own destiny. Have you ever stopped to think how much your life would be affected if you had made one major choice differently than you did? Or what if that lucky break hadn’t come your way?

Chance can put us in dangerous situations. Decisions can lessen the danger or increase it. How often have you heard someone say, “If that had happened to me, I would have… (blah, blah, blah).” One thing I’ve learned in life, no person will ever know what he would do in someone else’s situation. I don’t have a clue why they react the way they do, because I have not lived the same life.

In my own life, I met Jim by chance, chose to marry him, and chose to work at it. Dementia cut his life short by chance, and I chose to become an Alzheimer’s volunteer, which brought about a major change in my life. I’ve gone places I would have never gone, had experiences I would not have had, and found friends I would have never met.

Who we are and what we’ve become is a conglomeration of choice and chance. Sometimes, we might not even distinguish the difference. Have you ever noticed how many of us go to college and never work in the field we studied? Sometimes, that’s choice and sometimes it’s chance. Maybe we couldn’t find that special job we wanted. The winds of chance did not blow in our direction. Sometimes, we just grow older and decide that wasn’t the career path for us.

At one time, I wanted to be a teacher. Then, I wanted to be a journalist. What really happened was I became a mom and stayed home with the kids while they were little. My first real job after returning to college was in subscriptions at a coonhound magazine. Believe me, I never saw that coming!

After that company moved out of town, I, by chance, was selected to interview for a job on a computer. You have to realize that I had never seen a computer, much less used one. I chose to believe that it was something I always wanted to experience. That choice changed our family’s economic situation. Up until then, we had spent several years living frugally and still barely getting by.

Nine years after Jim passed away, I chose to remarry. So, here I am, in this house, in this room, at this table, working on this PC because of a lifetime of choices and by chance. It’s a scary thought that my destiny would have changed if I had made one different decision along the way. Yes, I have a monopoly on my life. No one else will ever have the exact experiences or make the same decisions I have made.

On the other hand, I’ve always had a feeling that the choices and chances I took were meant to be. I seriously doubt that I’ve always made the wisest or even the most logical choice. My decisions have been good, bad, and ugly, and yet somehow, in the end, it worked out.

I believe I’ve often been “nudged” along the right path. My path.

Copyright © January 2017 by L.S. Fisher

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