Through the years I’ve thought a lot about how simple choices affect my life. Most people probably think about that to some extent at some point in their lives. For some reason, I think about it a lot. Although not always when I need to… like when I’m making decisions about money. Or jobs. And that seems odd to me, because I like to "play chess" in most of the things I do. That is, I like to try to figure out several moves ahead of whatever I’m doing. When I’m driving, I’m looking at all of the cars in front of me, and the signal light ahead, what I think the bicyclist next to me will do at the corner, and where I’m going – all to determine the fastest route, or best way to get to that next light. On a daily basis, when I’m just going to run errands, I put together an elaborate plan in my head about what I’m doing, how long each stop will take, what other things could I take care of while I’m there, what route would be best and how will traffic affect the whole plan. But again, I realize how silly it is that I don’t play that same chess game when I’m making some bigger decisions.
I think about what my life COULD have been, had I not moved to Seattle. It’s impossible to know or even speculate now. But a favorite memory of mine is about a big decision that I made while standing naked outside of the tub while the shower was running.
Having been in Seattle for a short time, but not long enough to make any serious connections there, I felt alone, and sad – having been "dumped" by the woman I followed to Seattle. Not only do I look back and realize how important the decision I made was at the time – but even AT THAT MOMENT I knew I was making a HUGE decision. That decision was whether or not to stay in Seattle.
I had gotten involved with church – the young single adult group in fact, but hadn’t really gotten to know anyone. Every Monday night was "Family Home Evening", where families would spend the evening together. Well, it was Monday, and it was time to get in the shower and get ready to go. I was seriously ready to pack my stuff and head back to LA. I didn’t like Seattle very much. I missed the big freeways, ocean, palm trees, malls, and sunshine of LA. I missed my friends and family. I missed being in a place that wasn’t so… overcast…. all the time. I was, for the most part, made up about going back home. That’s why the decision was so huge. It’s so clear, I can picture it perfectly. I went into the bathroom, got undressed, turned on the shower… and stood there. Outside the tub. Just looking at the water from the showerhead. Arguing with myself. I knew that if I got in that shower, I would go to Family Home Evening. And if I went to FHE, I’d end up talking with people, possibly making new friends. And if I made new friends, I’d have SOME reason to stay in Seattle.
On the other hand, if I did NOT get in that shower, I wouldn’t end up going to FHE. I’d end up packing and getting ready to move back to LA. I recognized the magnitude of that moment AT that moment. I just knew it was a huge decision. If I stayed, I really had no idea what was in store for me in Seattle. If I went back home to LA, I’d probably move back in with my grandparents, go back to work at the movie theater, and who knows what else. I am positive that I stood there, naked, for several minutes, arguing with myself. It was a tough decision. A lifetime of possibilities ran through my head. That’s a lot of things to think about. To imagine. To guess about.
It was NOT a triumphant move to step into the shower. I stopped washing myself several times thinking I should just rinse off and get out and start packing. Literally standing there, not moving, just letting the water wash over me, trying to make a move one way or the other.
I finally did start soaping up again and finished the shower. I got dressed and drove to FHE. There were lots of people there already, but no one approached me for anything other than a hello. I sat on a log at the base of the hiking trail, ready to head back to my car once the official activity began. Then Raymond Fowkes showed up. We had chatted before, and he was the one that invited me to come to FHE that evening. I got up to say hello to him, and we began chatting. That chat lasted three and a half hours. Raymond seemed to willingly forego the activity for talking with me. I went on and on about my life, and decisions, and how I didn’t know what I was going to do. Raymond personally changed my life that night by becoming a friend.
I stayed in Seattle for about eight and a half years after that evening. I was over-blessed and got one amazing opportunity after another in various software jobs and other experiences. My life will forever be changed – I’m sure for the better – because I got into that shower, rather than packing my things.
The decisions of life are not always that clear. But I guess that’s the point of living. To make deacons and live with them. I think the good thing is, there is always another decision ahead, so there’s never really just one answer. Every decision can lead to something completely different from the one before it.