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June 18, 2006

A Life Begins

A few weeks ago, after the season finale of Lost (during which viewers were allowed the not-insignificant discovery that the world still exists beyond the island on which the characters are stranded), I had one of those imagined visions that mark the soul's speaking through the intellect.

While I walked the dog, I pictured a man emerging from a wooded area nearby, and although he was normal in appearance, I somehow knew him to be otherworldly. He told me that my time in this life was up — that I should let loose the leash and follow him to the next life. I objected that I was not ready to go, and pausing as if to listen to the wind, he replied that I could live out a full lifetime, but with the understanding that I would never find fame of any sort and would never do more, financially, than just get by. The time being offered me was for the experience of watching my children grow up and helping my wife to raise them.

It then occurred to me to imagine a different set of conditions. In this reformulation, the spirit replied that I could live out a full lifetime, but that I must leave my family immediately. I would find success. I would find renown. But one way or another, my time with my family must be over.

We are not often — perhaps ever — offered decisions so starkly, but my ease in choosing between the three options suggests to me that there is a treasure of perspective in phrasing life's choices thus. In the first vision, I would have had no difficulty making the decision to continue the stroll with my dog and follow the threads of my life in full understanding that its boundaries were tightly drawn around my role as a father and husband. In the second vision, I would have had equally brief hesitation before deciding to move along to the next life rather than to abandon my family for fame in this one. That, it seems to me, ought to inform my approach to the days' obstacles and opportunities.

Over the past few months, I've raced to transform this ad hoc seasonal enclosed porch ...

... into this nursery ...

... before the birth of my third child. Despite my spending some of the coldest weekends of the winter framing the exterior walls, he won the race. But the room is finished now, and life has the feeling of a beginning. All of the pieces are in place — the children born, the house bought, the suitable day job found — for the life that we've wanted to build, and all that's left is the building.

The children will need guidance as they grow. The house needs plenty of work — from renovations to additions. The carpentry day job requires learning and investment. Through it all, I've much that I want to learn about this world in which we find ourselves living. Volumes remain unwritten. My fingers still itch for the piano.

I've a newfound confidence, though, that there is due time. Perhaps it would not be reckless to hope that the desperation of youth has passed now that I've decided what ought to be most important to me. And it required only to imagine that I have a choice.

Posted by Justin Katz at June 18, 2006 11:55 PM
Diary & Confession

Amen. Sometimes the most comforting thought is to realise that I have a choice.

Posted by: smmtheory at June 19, 2006 1:34 AM

Nice work on the room!

Posted by: JRL at June 21, 2006 8:55 PM