Habits, Choices, and Deep Holes

4574733303_c568605333_z_lifeI heard a short poem recently that resonated with my life experiences. It probably describes each of our journeys along life’s path.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Autobiography In Five Short Chapters

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

 Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

 Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

– Portia Nelson

Habits, Choices, and Deep Holes

How many times have I habitually reacted to a life situation and—much to my surprise—found myself in a very deep and familiar hole? Far too many. Ironically, I might wonder how that could happen again, and again. Yet it does.

Truth is I somehow put that hole there, or navigated subconsciously to the street containing the hole. Damn, I fell in again!

Eventually, I have become wiser and have learned to avoid some of the holes I have grown to know so well. Whether I’m walking around them or taking a different street I’m not clear yet.

Not that my life is void of challenging holes from which I climb. There are now fewer of them, and I count that as progress. I’d like to say I’m free of deep holes, but I truly doubt that as my next great fall will surely point out.

Life: Choices or Script?

Is my life scripted at birth and I am following a convoluted but planned set of paths? Or do I have full one-hundred percent free choice? That’s the question, isn’t it?

The answer, much as I’d like to know it, must wait until all is revealed. Since I’m not in a big hurry to reach that crossing over I’ll remain patient and optimistic that my current means of dealing with this unknown is to ignore it.

This is one of the most difficult things I’ve learned to do, to walk the line between setting intentions to attract what I want, and accepting what shows up when it differs.

Did what show up result from a master plan for my life, or did I subconsciously attract it? I’ve taken the position that it doesn’t matter. If what I intend is indeed attracted and becomes a reality, great. That’s the way the world works.

But if something unintended shows up I’ve learned to (kind of) fully embrace it without questioning why it showed up instead of what I wanted. It just did, so I might as well go with it.

You might call that a weakness of mine, a wishy-washy belief system, but it works for me. That’s more important, I think, than to have the “right” answer.

So what’s your take on life, Choice or Script or something else?


  • Featured Image (Max Ehrmann quote) courtesy Flikr user LynnHasselberger
  • Life image courtesy Flickr user wespeck, CC Attr. Lic.
  • Thanks to Jen P. for introducing me to the inspiring poem.
  • Autobiography In Five Short Chapters, Portia Nelson

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