Life is like flying a kite. We may hold the strings, but we cannot control the weather conditions our kites might face. Some days the winds might be strong and energetic. The force behind our plastic wings thrust us high into the sky. We soar freely in and out of the clouds with no idea as to where we are going, embracing each gust that pushes us beyond our boundaries. Other days the weather conditions let us down, and as much as we continue to throw our kites into the air, they fall hurtling to the ground.
The truth is, we can wait an eternity for the perfect conditions to pursue our lifelong dreams, or we can get out there, toss our kites into the sky and hope for the best. And sure, sometimes our strings may become tangled, and other times our kites might get caught in the trees. But what’s the point in having a kite, if we aren’t planning to fly it?
The ripple effect
Two weeks ago, my husband almost died. Surprisingly, he wasn’t in the battlegrounds of Iraq, he was, in fact, driving through the scenic Quantock hills of the English countryside. In addition to the beautiful scenery, the Quantocks are renowned for their narrow and winding roads. As my husband approached a sharp bend, a large 4×4 Land Rover was driving in the opposite direction, three times the speed limit. When the car reached the corner, it lost control and hurtled onto my husband’s side of the road. Panicked, my husband quickly swerved into a ditch, missing the car by seconds. Shaken, my husband looked back at the car that almost killed him, to see it had made a hasty escape. The deadly driver didn’t stop to see if he was okay. For all they knew, he could have crashed into that ditch and died. Furious, my husband slammed his foot down on the pedal and tried to track the 4×4. A few moments later, he realised he was chasing a lost cause. It was hopeless, he was gone and by driving like a crazy lunatic he was just as bad as the driver who had almost killed him. He stopped, turned around and drove home.
This event got me thinking about the choices we make in life. Due to one person’s thoughtlessness – in the time it takes to blink an eye – my husband could have died, my children fatherless and I, a widow. One mistake could have changed all of our lives forever.
When we throw a pebble into the water it causes a ripple effect that radiates outwardly, each ripple gives birth to another, before it eventually fades into nothingness. Comparable to the ripple effect, our choices in life don’t just affect ourselves, they affect everyone around us. Okay, maybe our decision to have a banana sandwich might not have a huge rippled effect on anyone else, but what if it was the last banana and some else had planned to have a banana smoothie that day? What if they went out to the shops to buy a new one, but on the way back got hit by a bus? Oh, how cynical of me! What if, when they reached for said banana in the supermarket, they just so happen to clasp eyes with their future spouse? It’s unlikely, but our every choice – big or small – will make little or large ripples in the bigger picture, beyond our pebbles throw.
The choices we make and the decisions we take have a long-lasting impact on our lives. In fact, we live with those choices for the rest of our days. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? I mean, a lifetime is stretched over a great deal of years, but as we can see by the previous example, it is important to be mindful of every decision we make – big or small. Whether we feel it instantly or not, our lives are being shaped by the choices we are making right now. Yes, you heard me correctly, RIGHT this minute! Be careful of that coffee so close to your laptop!
Every single day we wake up with a pocketful of choices. We can choose happiness and positivity, or we can choose negativity and gloom. We can choose to wake up with a smile on our face with the intentions of a having good day, or we can crawl out of bed bearing a scowl with a predetermined forecast of a miserable day. We can hop on the bus, take the window seat and embrace the beautiful world that surrounds us, or we can plonk ourselves next to the snoring old man and think about how we’d rather be anywhere but here.
A person chooses to pour themselves an alcoholic drink as soon as they wake. A person chooses to shoot heroin into their veins. A person chooses to not smile back at the friendly neighbour who is smiling at them.
You win some, you lose some…
But life isn’t as black and white as a chessboard, it is as complex as the game itself. Every move we make changes life’s pieces. We have no idea what life holds five moves ahead, nor do we know whether the next move will be a smart one. What seems like the best move at the time, might not be the right move as the game progresses.
As it turns out, the jobless lager lout served 20 years in the Army. He fought many wars, lost many friends and saw too many things he shouldn’t have seen. He is now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and drinks alcohol as a way to escape his problems. Twenty years ago his board looked strong and he was on top of his game. Now he’s stuck on the same square, too anxious to move and too frightened to change.
Angie Garrett @ https://www.flickr.com
That’s the surprising thing about life, things can all change in one move. The rug gets pulled from under our feet, and suddenly we are on our hands and knees, wondering what has just happened. We can assume we are in control of our ultimate destinies, but we are sadly mistaken. The truth is, we will never truly know what lies ahead of the game. Alike the kite in the sky, we only have so much control. We cannot control the effects the outside elements will have on our performance. But rather than waiting for the perfect day, or worst still, sitting on the same square – too afraid to make a move – it’s important to feel the fear and do it anyway! Yes, it might be another bad move, but every mistake we make is a lesson. A lesson that will hopefully prepare us for stronger and more strategic moves in the future. After all, wins and losses are a part of life. We win some, we lose some!
The woman shooting heroin into her veins started with the weakest of boards. It didn’t seem to matter which way she moved, life always defeated her. No matter how much time goes on, she remains to make weak, maladroit moves. Sometimes she questions whether things will always remain this way? Is this just the board life has given her?
Luck, some of us have more than others. But is life one big game of pot luck? We have two choices in life; we can either blame the game for giving us a bad hand, or we can choose to change the way we play. At the beginning, we won’t know how it will all pan out. Sounds scary, right? But life isn’t about waiting for the wind to come, it’s about jumping out of our comfort zones and taking risks. If we want good things to happen, we will need to learn to play a better game. But how can we do this, if we are too busy blaming the other pieces?
The path of survival and comfort takes great planning. We only have a limited amount of moves, so we need to make good use of them. The more we move, the more knowledge and experience we gain and thus, the further equipped we will be to face life’s challenges. It’s only natural to experience losses, but regardless of our best position in life, we need to accept them as the humans we are, rather than letting them defeat us. After all, a loss doesn’t necessarily have to be a loss, it’s all a matter of perception. People with the most humble beginnings can turn their entire boards around and make a success of their lives. So why can’t we?
The grumpy old man who never smiles has a good reason not to be the cheery exemplary neighbour. He is grieving the loss of his wife. His pieces all served him well until his most precious was swiped unexpectedly from his grip.
It’s a fact of life, we can’t change our past moves, but we can make better ones in the future. Whether we stumbled across bad luck or made the wrong move, we can’t keep thinking about the ‘what ifs’. We need to brush ourselves down, learn from our mistakes and move forwards. The time we spend wallowing in self-pity and negativity is time that we could invest into a future of potential happiness. After all, a new day brings with itself new opportunities and a whole new world of choices.
Life is like a box of…puzzle pieces
We are born with all the pieces to create the end picture, but ultimately, it’s down to us how we choose to build that final image. Perhaps our puzzle pieces don’t match the picture-perfect image on the box front? Maybe we are missing a few pieces? However we approach the task of clipping all the pieces together, our puzzles fate lies in our hands. We might get a little help along the way, but it us who holds all the pieces. With every piece we place, we learn a new lesson. The more pieces we add, the bigger picture we build and the easier it becomes to reflect on those past experiences that help us to create a better future. Life isn’t about rushing to get the puzzle completed, it’s about enjoying the challenge of putting every little piece into place – whether the pieces slot in gracefully, or we have trouble jabbing one in.
It’s true when they say Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took time, motivation and hard work – just like our puzzles. I can say with all honesty, that some of my biggest mistakes in life have ironically led me to my greatest achievements. I spent my adolescence trying to smash pieces into places they simply wouldn’t fit. I spent my early twenties picking up fragments of broken puzzle pieces, trying to build a better picture. And now – on the brink of my thirties – I’m a quarter way through my puzzle. I have learned some valuable lessons, but I am still jamming puzzle pieces into the wrong places and I am not even close to the picture on my box.
But perhaps we need to get rid of the box altogether? Rather than chasing a predetermined image of how we hope our lives will turn out, why don’t we pack up the games for a while? Sometimes it’s important to stand back from our jigsaw puzzles and take a look at the bigger picture – the big beautiful world that surrounds us! Instead of planning 5 moves ahead or deciding where the next puzzle piece might fit, why don’t we fly our kites in whatever direction the wind takes us?
We could wait an eternity for the right move or weather conditions, so why don’t we stop wasting our precious time and see where the winds of life take us?
Two weeks ago, my board could have looked completely different. My puzzle could have been missing a vital piece. If anything, this has reminded me that life is too short to be anything but happy.
Now, let’s go live it!
carlousavard @ tumblr.com.