Once we make major life decisions, they become solid, like the ground, or a mountain, creating the contours, peaks and valleys of our lives. When I chose the man with whom I am spending my life, I gave my future a unique and distinct shape. A different choice would have made a different life.
I’m thinking about decisions and rock because my new novel, Cally’s Way, is about how both shaped so many lives seventy years ago in Crete, during World War II. The Cretan people had a harsh choice to make: to use courage, strength and guile to resist the German occupation, or to collaborate. Click here to sample their landscape in the Kourtaliotis Gorge.
|Monument to Cretan Resistance.|
Meanwhile we have just returned to Canada from Crete, driving from Toronto’s airport to Peterborough, Ontario on a concrete highway, eight lanes congested with cars and trucks, the air tinged pink by smog.
“I know,” a bright light in the highway department must once have decided, “let’s buy prime farmland along Lake Ontario, chop down the woods, reroute streams, and cover it all with concrete.”
|A highway department decision-maker|
Concrete high rises, some new, others shabby with age, line the route.
Decisions like these are the bedrock of seedy, soul destroying landscapes all across America. But, wanting to move more and more stuff, to endlessly grow our economies, we keep on making them. Here in Peterborough (a place that has not grown since we came here in 1979,) City Council has just decided to build a bridge right through one of Canada’s most beautiful city parks, in the name of hoped-for progress.
Rights to rip open the ground for mines, to destroy virgin forests for wood, to pollute whole watersheds and ecosystems to get oil out of Alberta’s tar sands and move it to markets are being granted all across Canada. Decisions that render us uglier, sicker and poorer. Different choices would make a different future.
Once made, changing big decisions leaves scars. Divorcees hurt, their children suffer. Landscapes cry. Look at Detroit, riddled with crumbling freeways, boarded up houses, decaying high rises full of broken windows.
And yet. In Detroit homies cruise outside a corner liquor store while inside the proprietor is full of humor, toughness, generosity. Down at the bus station, outside the locked gate in the wee hours, the old boys at the taxi stand are trading jokes, the air full of laughter. Hurt people are resilient, capable of new decisions, strong growth. Nature can recover.
|Bird of Paradise in Myrthios, Crete|
Could it be then that hope can only come from the decisions we individuals make, moment to moment?
Take the hours I spend on Facebook, Twitter and other electronic devices. These disconnect me from the life flowing around me, while making me so intense! And disconnected, distracted or fractured attention spans are easily manipulated.
I can, however, also make choices during my day to restore balance, create harmony and connection. All I need is to do it. Because in the end my father, who fought in World War II to preserve our rights to freedom of choice in thought, expression and action, had it right:
“Make your own decisions,” he said, “because if you don’t, life will make them for you.”
Sometimes, like Cally in my novel, we need history to slap us into wakefulness, snap us out of the complacency that can lose us everything, before it’s too late.
|Available in print & ebook at Iguana Books, Amazon, Chapters & all other retailers|