Different Life Paths

12 June 2009

Its interesting to think about how different our lives would be depending on just a few decisions or circumstances.....

I was looking at pictures of an old friend today and I think about how when we went to separate high schools our lives went in opposite directions. I'm sad sometimes that I didn't get to spend more time with some people but... you never know what's around the corner. Sometimes I wonder if things DO happen for a reason. I'm not one to think so typically but there have been a few circumstances in my life that I wonder - just maybe.

To think if you said "yes" or "no" at a certain point in time and how your life would alternate. I wonder how much of our lives we create for ourselves and how much we are affected by others. I think others have a HUGE impact but at the same time I think we have a persona to ourselves that may be a gift or a curse on its own.

I think back to an activity that my counselors did at summer camp one year. Every camper had to stand in a big circle and three women were in the middle. They took turns reading out certain statements and if the statement applied to you then you took one step forward. After a moment they would ask you to step back into the circle. Such a simple exercise but so mind numbingly revealing. Questions started off relatively simple or with expected answers to get people comfortable with the activity but there difficulty level/honesty level became much higher quickly. To start off it would be something simple such as "Step forward if you have ever felt lonely." It's sad, but who hasn't? We all feel alone sometimes. By the end, however, we were all so trusting with one another that we were able to admit to questions that are 'shameful' or 'hurting'. It varied from "Ever been offered a cigarette?" to "Have you ever felt ashamed about something you allowed to happen but didn't want?" or "Have you been pressured into sex?" Many had never happened to me. I know that I'm a person who makes the right decision in most cases but I also know that these things were not all up to me. How lucky have I been in my life in comparison to others?

Sometimes I feel like I don't know the half of what other people are going through.... then I realize - I don't know the tenth. I think I know my friends' lives pretty well and the general population for my "group type". White, upper-middle class, college educated. I mean everyone has personal stories about things that have gone wrong but none of my friends have dealt with drugs too heavily, or pressure for sex (that's almost a joke), or going through a situation that makes them feel ashamed to be alive. I certainly hope not.... I honestly don't know the WORST situation my friends have been in and that's awful. Still, the kids from camp have lives that are so challenging that I'm not sure whether I could stand up to the torrent.

I guess this was more a reflection on what's really important. I think that our own decisions and actions do indeed make a difference but I also think that we need to cut some people slack for the way the behave. At the same time, people who have everything handed to them need to take some responsibility upon their shoulders to be better people. I know a few people that could most certainly follow that a good bit better. I'm one of them. It's too bad I can't just come out and talk to people about this, especially those that treat others as objects or below them, but I don't know how it would be brought up even. Plus I don't think they're the type to listen. How in the world can you make that difference?

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