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  • I can’t believe I’ve written and posted 499 stories in Cowbird before I wrote one on one of my favorite topics – Choices. On the other hand, I suppose it is fitting that number 500 would be a story on the subject. (“There you go, counting again. What is up with you and your counting, Hawk?” Dude, I like to count, is that a crime? “Count this!” )

    I fell asleep in my cave, in my easy chair, reading “On the Road”, the Kerouac Beat classic. I love Jack. I just really relate to the conflicts he struggled with. More than any of the other Beats, I resonated with Jack. God, I’d forgotten what a classic it is. I’ve read a lot of his work, since I last read this one, and I have to say, I don’t think he ever quite nailed the spirit of the road again, and of that early Beat culture, the way that he did in this one.

    I last read “On the Road” before I went on the road myself, before I began my own journeys to freedom, criss-crossing about the country on my AWOL trek, my trek that started out seeking freedom from a despotic ship captain, then grew into a freedom trip from the Navy and the military, and finally mushroomed into an epic journey for freedom of the soul from the hardened grip that addiction had on it.

    None of which has anything to do with my topic of choice for my 500th Cowbird dropping (did I really just say that?), I mean, posting. That topic of choice being, “Choices”. But whaddya want – I just woke up and haven’t had time nor inclination to climb those stairs out of my cave to the kitchen above, to fire up that hot water to mix with my cold-filtered coffee brew, to start the brain synopses firing on high gear. I’ve chosen, instead, to sit right here and ramble on in stream of thought prose, just like Rambling Jack would have done. WWJKD. What would Jack Kerouac Do? As tempting as that sounds, I am not going to start living my life by that question! The ol’ Beat Bard had far too many issues that I would not want to take on at this stage of my life. But, he was, and is, an inspiration to me. So, just for this moment, just for this story, just for number 500, me and Jack are going to try to knock this one outta de park.
  • Choices. Here goes. I believe that everything we have in our life is a result of the choices we’ve made. The first time this idea was ever presented to me, it resonated deep inside. I resisted the idea for awhile, threw up the arguments about chance and fate and “what about this?”, and “how about that?”, trotted all the usual “resistance suspects” outta my mental closet, but at the end of the argument, I had to admit, there was a lot of truth to the statement. So, like any good analyst will do, I’ve been gathering evidence ever since, checking it out, examining it under the harsh light of my life, and self reflection. So far, for my own life, at least, I’m buying it. The theory holds enough water that I’ve adopted it as one I can live by. It’s become a significant part of my code.

    Kathy has a sister who hates the word, “choices”. She tends to love being a victim. Whatever isn’t right in her life is because of something “they” did, or are doing. She don’t want to hear that her crummy, miserable lot in life might have anything to do with some of the choices she has made. No. Then you can’t sit there and blame everything and anything else, and cry “damn the man!” and be all righteous in your victimhood indignation state of consciousness. Then, you have to take some ownership, and ask yourself the question, “O.K., while some shit around me just ain’t right, what have I done to contribute to the mess my life is right now? What has been my part in all of this? And, what can I do to change it? What choice can I make to set things right, get the train back on track?” Naw, it doesn’t appear that she wants to hear that line of thought, at all. Kathy’s been there, done that. They don’t talk at all, anymore. That’s a choice Kathy had to make at one point, when the insanity got to be just more than she was willing to have in her life. That’s given her sister lots of fuel for her victimhood fire, but Kathy’s been pretty happy with the choice, despite the separation it has caused between her and her sister. The sanity has been a worthwhile price to pay for it. If her sister ever shows signs of being willing to engage on a more even, sane playing field, I’m sure that Kathy will reconsider her choice.

    Choices. There have been a number of times in my life where it didn’t seem like I had much of a choice. But, truly, I almost always did. I could have chosen to keep going down the road I was on to the bitter end. I could have chosen to ignore the moments of sanity that eventually allowed me to take a different road. I could have chosen to stay in the program that helped me to get clean and sober, out of loyalty, instead of choosing Recovery. I could have still been there, fighting a bitter battle with the powers that be over book rights, and changed principles, and group rights, and all kinds of other crazy stuff that never amounted to a hill of beans. Many of my friends from back in the day are still there, still fighting, still crazy after all these years, getting old fighting the good fight. Me, I surrendered and was blessed with Recovery. I got out of the fight, and chose, instead, to live my life.
  • Choices. Sometimes, I choose to just live from within. Tune out the noise. Recognize the signs pointing me in that direction when I lose sight of that road of sanity. Like Ben’s story the other day, the one that talked about just living authentically, and not being driven by the news cycles, and all of the garbage flying all about. That so resonated with me, I just said, “Yeah! That’s the ticket. That’s where I need to be.” I made a choice. That argument, that fight, doesn’t need my voice. I just let it go. I trust that the universe will figure it all out, and sanity will eventually reign. Or not. Either way, I can’t engage in the whole argument any longer. I just choose to live my peaceful, gunless life from within, and let my actions be an example. If you don’t like it, go ahead – shoot me. If it’s my time, it’s my time. It’s a good day to die, as my Native American brethren are attributed with saying. I like that saying. Only, when I say it and hear it, what I hear is, “It’s a good day to Live! Live it like it might be your last. Leave nothing on the table. Leave it all out there on the field of play. Suck every last drop of sweet nectar from that rind of life”. That last line is what I choose to hear whenever I hear someone say, “Ah, life sucks!” I picture sucking the sweet nectar out of the fruit, appreciating every aspect of its taste, its quenching liquid, its life-giving vitamins, and say, “Yeah, it sure does!”

    And now, I’m making an important choice for this day. I’m dragging my sorry ass out of this comfortable seat, climbing those stairs to that kitchen, and fixing me my first cup o’ joe for the day. It’s a big day. The biggest. It’s the first day of the rest of my life. Time to start suckin’. (“Suck this!” Shut up). Need that coffee.

    Have a great day. (If you so choose!) Make it a memorable one!
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