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Questions from the beach 3

Filled with words, mixing together as I try to tell a story while sick with the flu. How I drove to the beach on a whim last Saturday with my mom and sister. How we talked about the big questions of life. Why do you make decisions? What are the biggest decisions of your life? Feeling surprised at their answers, mostly about relationships – with men and children. My mom deciding to leave her first husband, stay with my dad. Have more children. My sister deciding to leave the father of her first child, stay with her current husband. Not have more children. More surprised when the conversation turned to a debate about the meaning of pride. What does pride really mean? When have you felt proud in your life? Struck as both of them talked about their children, feeling proud of things they’d taught them. I didn’t say at the time, but I thought about how I am proudest of my education, how far I’ve come given where I started.

I felt the cold spray on my face as we walked, barefoot, along the shoreline. Gave my scarf to my sister and pulled up my hood against the gray cold. Felt how big questions open you the way being near the wild North Pacific does, tilting your perspective on the here and now. Felt how quickly the focus had shifted to them, how I heard about their big decisions, their memories of pride, and never said my own. This is who I am in my family. The questioner, the one who often prefers to ask and listen, rather than competing to get my own voice heard.

It’s frustrating at times to have to fight so hard for attention; being one of six children (five of them girls) will do that. But I appreciate how Saturday’s conversation leaves me with so much to think about. Questions still turning themselves over in my mind nearly a week later. I want to ask everyone I see; find out their thoughts and experiences.

Instead, I blog from the couch, sick as a dog. So I turn my questions to you, because it fills me so to have this conversation through blogging. What does it mean to have power over your decisions? What drives the big decisions of your life? What does pride really mean, and how does it matter in your life?


  1. Megsie

    05/14/2011 at 7:47 am

    Oh, you expect so much! These are not little questions to be sure.

    I think Decisions depend on so much context. It was a big decision to NOT have kids right away after we got married. I wanted to work on my career. I felt like that was MY decision. Many by-standers poked and prodded me to rethink this decision, because we didn’t have kids until after nine years of marriage. The decision to have kids was more my husband’s decision. He admitted, after my niece was born, that he wanted to have kids while he was still able to play with them. That was enough. He had never questioned me before that. So we began the process of deciding when…six months later I was pregnant. And, from that moment on all decisions are based on how it effects my kids. There is no more “my” decision. We make decisions based on their welfare, not our own happiness, or career advancement.

    As for pride, there is always the pride for my children. They amaze me everyday. But I also have pride that I finished my master’s degree. And that I completely changed jobs and survived. And that I make a difference in some people’s lives because I am a teacher. I am also proud that I began a blog. It was a HUGE risk for me. And that I have good friends. There are many more things about my life that I am NOT proud of, like missing appointments occasionally, and forgetting to send cards, and the general disorganization of being an abstract/random person. I tend to focus on those things, unfortunately.

    I am so glad that you blog here. I love to hear your words and envision what you see. And answer your HUGE and nebulous questions, however poorly. 🙂

  2. Cherry

    05/14/2011 at 11:40 am

    Big questions indeed Meg! I don’t think they have good answers, just true ones – true to life, to the moment. I love hearing what they make you think of. And I’m so glad you took the risk of blogging – you inspire me to keep taking the risk too!

  3. Larry

    05/15/2011 at 11:01 pm

    I’m glad you ask big questions!

    Big decisions… a combination of circumstance and doing what seems right in the moment. Moving out to CA (in part to put some distance between myself and family) was a huge leap of faith – I didn’t have a job lined up and knew very few people out here. In the end, it was life altering and an entirely “right” decision to make.

    Isn’t it interesting how much of subsequent life trajectory unfolds from decisions? Where to go to college decided my entire circle of young adult friends, relationships, lovely accidents of learning… Had I gone elsewhere, I’d have had a different set of friends, a different set of learning opportunities. Who knows how differently things might have turned out? Or perhaps things would not be that fundamentally different…

    Deciding to get married shortly after grad school was a big and relatively easy decision… until 3 years later when my partner wanted out. Then I kicked myself for not having been more cautious, for the emotional and financial roller coaster that followed. Sure, knowing what I know now I would have decided differently, but I’m still in one piece, grateful for my current life, and grudgingly acknowledging that I learned a thing or two in that process.

    What does it mean to have power over my decisions? Largely to be as conscious as possible, to take into account my head and heart, to not decide from conditioned habit. Often it feels more like the decision “happened” or made itself, as opposed to a conscious pushing-a-button on my part. What’s helped is having that internal radar that says “danger danger!” or “yeah, this feels right”. And as someone recently pointed out to me, the emotions of “excitement” and “fear” are very very similar.

    Pride? That’s a tough one. Like you, I’m proud of where I’ve been educationally (neither of my parents attended college). But again, I don’t know how much of that I actively chose versus just followed what felt like a right path. And as I’ve written before, I’m feeling cautious about pride in work, particularly works of words that will scatter like dust in too few years. A friend pointed out that I’d be able to hand my hand-crafted dining set down to my grandkids (which I won’t have, but that’s another story) – I probably take more pride in leaving a lasting mark (particularly among people, friends, students) than anything.

    Please keep asking the big questions, and sharing your own answers. We’re enjoying the dialog.


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