Here’s the thing: in large measure, our decisions determine who we become and who we are.
The bad part about this is that we often don’t realize that we’ve made a decision, or that there is an option–a decision to even make.
Since about the sixth grade I’ve wanted to be a writer. Maybe earlier, but I recall often getting ideas for characters and situations. For example, I remember as a kid sneaking into the sugar tin and grabbing a spoonful of sugar and thinking, “There should be a book with a character that carries around little capsules of sugar, and she pops them whenever she’s stressed out and needs a boost. Like right before she’s about to get married.”
I have yet to use the idea because, quite simply, not every idea is worth using. But I was thinking about books and characters and conflicts early on. During high school I wrote two books. Wrote another the year after. After a two-year break, I re-wrote one of the books.
Then I made a choice. I bought a little computer game called StarCraft. I remember talking with my wife about the decision because I was quite conflicted on the matter. At the time, money was tight (I worked 30 hours a week as a phlebotomist to support my little family), and $50 was a big spend for us. I have no idea where I even got the money. Probably a gift of some sort. I was debating between StarCraft and something called Ultima Online.
“Ultima Online,” I said to her, “would take a lot more time. It requires a lot more effort.”
I clearly remember her dubious expression: eyebrows raised, mouth a thin line.
“Something will have to give,” I said. “School work, or writing, or something else.”
I may have even said that it might affect how much time I could spend with her. If I said that, it was clearly a stupid thing to say. Back then, I said a lot of idiotic things. I think I’m better, now–at least, a little bit. (I at least know not to say–or even think–that something might take time away from my wife).
Anyway, at the time, I was making the choice between one game or another. What I didn’t know was that I’d already made a choice–to buy a game–that would steer me away from what I really wanted. I wanted to write and publish books. Little did I know that the decision to buy any game would derail my efforts for about 8 years.
You see, I bought StarCraft. That led to other game purchases, and the next thing I know, it’s 8 years later and although during those 8 years I had abortive starts at writing, I mostly dropped it for this other hobby.
That decision to buy a game–quite small, really–took me down a different path than I really wanted to take.
I thought–and professed–that my priority was to write and publish books. In reality, during those eight years my decisions demonstrated that my priority was for leisure in the form of video games.
In the end, I’ve realized there’s value in taking a look at what we really want out of life, and evaluating whether or not the daily decisions we’re making are leading us there. If not, maybe it’s time to change.
Three and a half years ago, I made the decision to change my course. No more video games. Instead: writing.
One of the best decisions of my life.