Choices

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

A friend just dropped off a copy of our Book Club selection for this month, and I thought, “Well, why don’t I just ‘taste’ a little bit of the story.” Three o’clock this morning I am struggling to keep my eyes from closing permanently! If I don’t get some sleep, I will die! Oh, my gosh, I have so much to do tomorrow. The carpet people are coming at 9 a.m. which is why I am tucked upstairs in the cozy little brass bed in what my sister calls “her room” when she visits. We had to strip everything in the living room and bedroom for the installation, and so I chose to sleep in this room and sent Bill to the queen size guest room to spread out and enjoy that space, alone.

But now, here I am waking every two hours and turning the light on stealthily, like a burglar, although the only one who cares that I am missing important sleep is Me, and I can’t seem to help myself. The book is called “The Lost Choice” by Andy Andrews. Never heard of either the book or its author and the initial style is neither sophisticated nor terribly compelling. Pretty standard stuff. Little family of three. The dad’s a cop (a good-looking detective) and his wife, a journalist (pretty redhead with bright green eyes), and the kid, somewhere around five, (red hair, green eyes) and, of course, very precocious. The parents are firm about bedtime, but the rest of their free time is spent doting. So one afternoon the little boy comes into the house, muddy from playing in a shallow creek bed (the ditch, mom calls it), with a weird piece of old metal that has an inscription which puzzles both the very smart cop and the bright journalist wife.

So, we’ve got the characters and some pretty bland description. That’s pretty much it. I am not sure what city they live in, Denver? Their hobbies? She just drinks a lot of coffee, all day and night. Doesn’t matter, ‘cause just as I am going to put the book down and turn off my light for some quiet alone sleep time, they bring in an anthropologist friend who determines the writing is Aramaic and the metal is probably 1,700 to 1,800 years old. Ho Ho! I am hooked.

I don’t know if you knew or not, but from the time I was 12 years old and a teacher talked me out of becoming a brain surgeon, I planned to become either an anthropologist (study human cultures) or an archeologist (who studies ancient civilizations/bones/caves/stuff) not that I really knew they were different. And this was before Indiana Jones!

I got every book I could find about the professions. Then I landed on Richard Haliburton’s two travel memoirs, “Stories of His Life’s Adventures” and “New Worlds to Conquer.” This dude was a very wealthy second son who instead of staying home in Boston and making more millions with his father, Richard took off to live the life of an archeologist, exploring scary regions and attempting crazy feats like swimming the crocodile swollen Panama Canal or diving into the Virgin’s Well knowing little about how deep it was. Deep. He knew that. I loved this man!

Anyway, turns out this is not going to be just another mystery, another sleuthing couple who follow the trail of an ancient bronze relic and learn where it came from and who it belonged to…maybe solving a few murders along the way. No. This is to be “a parable of the potential of the human heart.” This message is delivered over and over in the lives of historical figures who are supposedly connected to one of the bronze pieces found to be inscribed with the cryptic Aramaic proverbs. This is good stuff!

First we meet Oskar Schindler; remember the Nazi higher-up who saved thousands of Jews, putting himself in grave danger, but making what he believed was the only choice. “At some point a man must stand and act.” Then others like George Washington Carver whose experiments with peanuts saved millions of people in Africa from a famine! This is way beyond peanut butter, oil and plastics. We meet Thomas Jefferson and John Adams who in writing the “Declaration of Independence” set in motion the wheels for the freedom enjoyed by millions in our Great Nation. The men believed they had no choice but to put their “Lives,” their “Fortunes,” and their “Sacred Honor,” at risk, for many believed their choice would lead to punishment as a traitor. Death.

Wow. It was so good to be reminded of the why and how of the founding of our great country, America. I’m thinking—this book is one great history lesson tucked into a fun read about following a mystery. It is also a reminder of the choices we are given—every day. Opportunities to do good, what’s right, or— not. My personal journey has been a veritable plethora of crossroads and forks in the road of life. I wonder every day if I made the right decisions. Marrying at 18. Well, that seems to have worked for over 50 years! Giving up my dream of becoming an archeologist (I still took courses in anthropology and sociology at USC in Columbia at 32), but content myself with digging about in antique shops for treasures. Of leaving the promising banking industry to become a teacher? For almost 30 years I had chances every day to direct a young person’s life with a word, a smile, a criticism even. Whew. What a responsibility. And now I have chosen to use some of those skills learned as a teacher to read critically, write and edit as a part-time job. And I volunteer. But has it been enough?

I haven’t always listened to God’s instructions, but when I have listened…and waited, the choices have been the right ones. That’s my life lesson learned. It is very similar to the one taught in “The Lost Choice.” Good book.

 

* “Every single choice you make…every single action you take…matters. But, remember, the converse is true. Every choice you do not make…every action you do not take…matters just as much.” (TLC)

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