Thursday, February 9, 2012

NCIS, Stephen King & Choices!

My wife got me hooked on NCIS a few years ago and I believe I have now seen every episode, including the recent 200th one.  I must admit that this was far from being my favorite one, but it did have an interesting twist.  Gibbs appears to have been shot and killed and spends time in a diner where he encounters people from his past who confront him with choices that he had made and their ramifications.  What if he had seen the sniper who killed Kate?  What if he had not shot the killer of his wife and daughter?  What if his wife had lived and he had stayed in the Marines instead of joining the predecessor to NCIS?  It was interesting to see how his life, and others around him, would be affected by alternate choices or actions.

I just recently finished a Stephen King book titled '11/22/63'.  In this story a time warp is found that sends the traveler back to late 1958.  After spending some time in the past the traveler could return back to their own time, two minutes later than when they had gone in.  An interesting twist is that every time you go into the past, everything is reset to the state it would have had if the trip had never been made.  So you could go back, do something, return to the present and see the result, and then return to the past which undid whatever you had done the previous trip.  At some point the decision is made to try and go back to prevent the assassination of John Kennedy.  Without giving away the rest of the story, it was interesting to see the alternative ways that history could have come out if only some event in the past had been changed.

The similarities between these two bits of entertainment were striking to me, and caused me to think a bit.  How much do my actions today affect my future, as well as other people around me?  I generally have no way of knowing with any certainty what the results will be for any decision I make now, but it is definitely something to consider; to realize that my actions now will impact my tomorrow.

Way back in 1982 I was a 29 year old single guy, working full time and just finishing up on my Associates Degree.  I was actively involved in a church near where I lived but had grown unhappy there.  Rather than deal with those issues, I decided to move to another nearby town as an excuse to join a different church.  In this new church I found a lovely young woman who, against all reasonable expectations, came to love me as much as I did her.  Long story short we were married, had kids, moved into a bigger house and slowly grew old(er) together.  While I am quite happy with the end result of this choice I made in 1982, I do occasionally wonder what the alternative might have been had I stayed longer and tried to work though the issues.  What would my life have been like today?  What would life be like for the one who today is my wife?  Plus the two kids who would not even have been born.

Back in 1982 I gave no thought about the long term results of that move, and there was no way to have foretold what would happen.  But it does help me to realize just how important even some seemingly unimportant choices can be.  And rather than just blunder through life from day to day, how it is good to take some thought of the consequences of what I do today.  And to at least avoid choices that will likely adversely affect my future.

You might think of the life ahead of you as a branching tree, with every fork being a decision point in your life.  There are many possible routes you could take in your life, walking out that tree, each leading to a different future.  Be sure that your choices allow you the best opportunity to have a good one.

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