The Sum of All Things


You know I love my fantasy with a strong dose of truth. I believe in happily ever after, but I also believe that life, specifically mine over the last couple of weeks, sometimes gets in the way. I've had to make some difficult choices about where and how to spend my time. Most unfortunately, my blog has been the big loser in my time management of late. But never fear:  I will adjust to my new normal and I will learn how to get 'er done. All of it. Somehow.  Luckily, I enjoyed a special treat this past week: a new Thea Harrison novella. I'm on her ARC team (yay!!) and  was given an advanced copy of a new anthology, Amid the Winter Snow, with her story, The Chosen, nestled in the middle. It was transportive. And authentic. My favorite.

As the story of Lily and Wulf unfolds, Lily grapples with the knowledge that as the goddess' Chosen, she will need to make a choice. Throughout her life, Lily has always assumed that this choice will be grand and momentous, but in the fullness of time she realizes that perhaps the goddess intended for her "to face a series of choice every day—explore this, don't do that. Choose to do the right thing or the wrong one." And while Lily was prepared to make big choices, she comes to understand that it's the small choices that define us and ultimately determine who we are and how we live. 

In the story, Lily is called to takes sides in an impending war, despite her initial desire to remain neutral. She is also called to choose a mate, which, in the event, is tantamount to choosing sides. Lily is like the rest of us. Most of us are lucky enough to choose our life partners, whether to have children, careers, political parties, etc. These are certainly big choices. But even the most impactful of these choices—spouses, offspring, jobs—is not as decisive as the accumulation of small choices we make every day.

I made a big choice. I married my husband over 22 years ago. It was a good choice. But it's the little choices I make each and every day, that determine the overall quality of our marriage. It's one thing to marry the right person. It's another to ensure that both of us continue to be the right choice for each other day-after-day, year-after-year. Every day I can choose to find ways to be generous or selfish. Every day I can choose to dump my anger and frustration on him, because he's there and he will absorb it (until he won't, presumably) or I can choose to keep my mouth shut and smile pleasantly. I can choose to go out of my way to pick up something I know he likes to eat. Or I can skip it and just come home. I can defer on weekend plans or insist on my own way. I can choose to champion his causes or ignore his passions. These are among my daily choices. And the outcome of the totality of my choices is a happy husband and a good marriage, or not. Of course, his choices matter too, but I can only be responsible for myself and my decisions.

Similarly, we chose to have children. Worked hard for them, even. But that choice would have been meaningless if we didn't make the choice every day to be parents. Birthing a baby (or two, in my case), is almost nothing compared to raising a child. The series of choices parents make, day in and day out, are heroic, and mundane, and selfless, and sometimes excruciating. And we do it. One way or another. Sometimes we do the right thing and sometimes we live to regret our mistakes. But we make choices big and small every single day.

And what about our health? My favorite aunt has had to move into assisted living, mostly because the tiny choices she made every day for years had the cumulative effect of destroying her health and, as a result, her independence. Her son, my cousin, tried to explain it to her, pointing out that each night she decided to eat out instead of cook, sit on the couch instead of walk, cancel her doctor appointments instead of following medical directions, all of those choices snowballed into a wholly avoidable situation that is now irreversible. Sucks, but it's the truth, and she has no one to blame but herself. It breaks my heart, but in the end, we couldn't save her from herself.

Every day is a series of choices. What to wear, what to eat, where to travel, when to exercise, have fun, see friends, give service, and rest. Many, many choices. And they add up. As Lily says, "Our lives become the sum of each chosen moment."  Truth, in my fantasy. So, for today, I choose to read as many Thea Harrison stories as I can, because she is as real as they come. And I will continue to try to choose to do the right thing in all the various aspects of my life, so that the sum of my choices adds up to a life well lived.