‘Excellent choice!’ the waiter said – and I
(opting once more for vegetable soup,
with half a glass of water – ‘No wine, thanks!’)
reflected on the choices of my life:
parents and family (good choices both –
though hardly mine to make), our land and speech,
the people of this realm (good choices all,
I guess; where would you rather live today?).
But few make life-affecting choices till
they choose their course of study, line of work
and lifelong mate.
The three I made were each
excellent choices; language, learning, she
who shares my life, our family and home.
And is that it? What choices matter once
these three are made? We choose the way we think
and feel, the things we do (run marathons,
cook meals, write poetry, tread softly, smile)
and those we don’t (no car, no meat, no booze!);
we choose our virtues and our vices, moods
Pride and sloth (and lust!)
chose me, courage and charity, and hope…
I chose few friends and many books, both true,
a curious (and cheerful) solipsist,
who challenged norms and bucked the trends,
and chose to live his life his own sweet way.
I wonder if the waiter would have said,
‘Excellent choices!’ – had he known the truth.
And I who do, or think I do, reflect
on how my life might have unfolded if
I’d chosen anger, envy, avarice…
or if my virtues had included faith…
or if I had conformed to what my peers,
our culture, and the world required of me.
‘Choose wisely’, say philosophers –
but fail to tell us what we’d better choose:
‘First, do no harm’ – the Silver Rule; then learn
to love, the Golden Rule; and last of all
(and hardest of them all) the Diamond Rule –
‘Do the right thing!’ I wonder what it is…
as I choose one last (sugar-free) dessert –
a coffee and a chocolate mint as well –
before the feast of life is quite complete.