Choices

Hello.

This is the first in my recent challenge to write more often. Hopefully I will grow as a writer by creating material and posting it, no matter how unfinished or bad it may be.

As always, please critique my work as much as possible and let me know an honest opinion no matter how vague or cutting it may be. That is the point of the blog.

Regarding the picture, it seemed to me the best when I typed “choices” into a google image search. It was pretty funny. 

Thankful as always,

Sheridan A. Smith

Aspiring Striver

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Choices are something that we make with varying degree of success every day. There is nothing at all extraordinary about them. We choose what socks to wear, what words to say, and how much cereal we can pour into our bowl without feeling too awfully guilty about it.

Most choices are totally mundane, and yet they can cause incredible grief and grand conflicts with those around us. When we don’t know what we want for dinner, we ask our partners. If they don’t know, it can become a flurry of atomic, “I don’t care, just pick something!”s.

Some great choices can be world changing, however. Some choices can be revelatory and impact one’s life in incredible ways and make almost no sign that they had ever been made.

 

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Eliot put on his tie and adjusted it so it was centered and attractive. Walking over to his mirror he looked at himself and smiled.

Not because he looked attractive, though.

He smiled because he was entirely dressed from the waist up, and had on only boxers and socks below. Eliot struck a dignified pose and laughed. Only then did he put on pants.

Something was bothering him.

He walked to the front door and started putting his shoes on. He was going to a party. It was formal, but mostly going to be pretty fun. Just a bunch of people getting together and dressing up because they really didn’t have any other reason to. The people were all likeable, and the conversations would be pretty interesting.

All in all a fun night.

He didn’t want to go.

Eliot liked people. He really did. When he was around them he couldn’t but listen to their stories and laugh at their jokes. If they found something funny, no matter how poorly delivered the joke, he couldn’t stop his widening smile and the laugh that was always just a bit too loud.

Still, he didn’t want to go. He wasn’t sure why, but he never really did.

Eliot always had fun, and almost always was glad that he went.

He hated tying his shoes.

And he was going to see people he really wanted to see.

He really hated tying shoes.

There would be really good food and he could pretty much pick a topic and someone would have something to say on it. There wasn’t a person who was boring who would be there.

Why did he even have to wear shoes anyway?!

Something was bothering him.

He was meeting his girlfriend there. This was endlessly exciting! They hadn’t been dating long, but they had a lot of fun. They would walk together and talk. Go to shows and had become something of a double person. He loved seeing her, and he loved her.

Why didn’t he want to go?

Finally his shoes were on. They had given him a fight, but he overcame them in the end. This, to him, was funny.

Having vanquished his laced foe, he checked to make sure he had his keys, wallet and phone, and left. It was a clear night, with no clouds in the sky. It was dark already even though it wasn’t that late. The moon was very bright and there was a breeze that touched the left side of his face. He felt calm and peaceful.

His stomach sank.

He paused for a long breath while staring at the moon. Then, Eliot took the keys from his pocket, took another breath, and got into his car.

The party was kind of a potluck. Everyone needed to bring something. True to form, Eliot had waited until on his way to get something. He would get, as he most often did, a form of snack type chip that would be slightly off the norm, and no one would really eat them.

He was okay with that.

Something else was bothering him.

No matter how at ease he seemed to feel, he knew that something was bothering him. It wasn’t that he knew what, but he knew that something was off at least. It usually was, though, and he didn’t pay much attention. There was something pronounced about tonight, however.

He got to the store and went inside. The radio in his car, which had been on, was turned off. Tonight he wanted some measure of silence. So the bright room filled with cheap food and music was jarring to him. Almost cowering below the lights, Eliot got what he wanted and checked out as quickly as he could.

Even so, he enjoyed the cashier who waited on him. It was a boy. A teenager. Someone who was obviously reactive to a very bad string of customers. He smiled at the boy, and was unhurried when he interacted with him, and enjoyed that it seemed to calm the cashier down.

Again, he was in the car. The dim and quiet car. It was better there. He relaxed again and started the car.

In a few minutes Eliot would be at the party. He would be eating good food and having good conversations. Friends would compliment him on how good he looked, and he would return the compliment while raising the bet with some sort of remark on their impeccable taste or astounding command of language. The night would then progress to games and extremely amusing competitive trash talk. Much more ruthless than would seem to fit a game of Trivial Pursuit.

He still felt something was wrong.

As he pulled onto the street, he imagined seeing his girlfriend and how much fun they would have. They would talk and flirt all night. He would playfully make fun of her and she would do the same.

It was all very exciting.

Eliot parked the car and got out. The moon shone on his face and he looked at it. Staring up at the sky, with no sound whatsoever, he felt calm.

For a moment, he felt immoveable. There was a place he was, and it seemed to be the most pleasant thing he had ever experienced. Nothing moved. Even his blood seemed to have halted in his veins.

He knew what had been bothering him.

Always slightly spiritual, he remembered something he’d read in a book. The Buddha would urge his disciples, homeless monks, by saying, “The home life is crowded and dusty, the homeless life is open and free.”

He wanted to leave and live as a hermit somewhere. Sit for long hours in caves and meditate. Live on morsels and be quiet.

At that moment, he could have started walking and not stopped until he found a cave. There could have been no looking back. At that moment, he could have changed everything in his life.

There was the choice.

He could find a cave somewhere and sit. He could spend his days as a hermit and, if he learned anything at all, he could use it to spread a little light and goodness in the world.

Or…

He could open his back door, grab his chips made from humus and go into the party. He could speak with his friends. He could compliment them and laugh with them. He could see his girlfriend.

When he thought of her, something shifted. The moon stopped being the blank slate of his life, and started being her face. He was looking upward but his mind was inside, at the party.

With the thought of her, Eliot’s heart swelled. He warmed up, and the blood started flowing through his veins again.

Eliot smiled and sighed.

He was giving up a person he wanted to be, something he wanted to strive for. It was sad, there was no way around that, but he was happy as well.

He closed the door, after grabbing the chips, and walked towards the house. He reached to ring the doorbell, but the door opened before he could. The house was warm and people were laughing in the background. He smiled, held up the bag and heard a distinctive “Oh Gawd” from his girlfriend in the background.

His smile widened.

 

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If there is anything that helps you make a decision, anything at all, make it love.

Challenge

Well, I guess that this blog has been sorely neglected. However, due to a goading on by Ira Glass, I’ll be writing quite a bit more.

He didn’t actually specifically urge me, but he did urge someone, and then another person made a video of it. 

Check it out. It is a kick in the ass, but a well needed one.

In that spirit, I’m going to be more, um, productive on this blog. Hopefully something will be posted every two weeks. Some sort of story, however good or, as is more likely, bad, will be posted. 

So, please, as I often urge, continue to comment and critique what I write so that I may become something nearing the passing resemblance of what might be closely adjacent to good. 

It would help enormously.

Thank you,

Sheridan A. Smith

“Something Resembling Close to Adjacent”