Choose Your Own Adventure

In olden days before the Internet and e-books, my kids enjoyed Bantam Books’ Choose Your Own Adventure series. The paperback books told improbable adventure stories in the second person. You the reader had to make choices after each page or two.

A decision to open the door on the left might send you to page 32. A mysterious stranger might then ask you to help find a stolen gem. If you ignored the knock on that door, you might wind up on page 12. Then you could confront a ghost who snuck in through the fireplace.

My kids weren’t the only fans of the series. According to Wikipedia, Choose Your Own Adventure books racked up about 250 million sales during the 1980s and 1990s. The interactive series clearly tapped into something—kids’ desire to choose their own destiny.

Of course, the books were fiction. And yes, real life is a lot different from fantasy and adventure stories. Yet the reality is that we do get to choose our own adventures.

Every day, we face myriad choices. What we choose affects both our immediate situation and the future. Our decisions affect others as well. That’s the freedom—and the responsibility—of free will.

Some decisions are definitely impractical. Few adults can afford to quit their jobs and live a life of luxury. Compulsory school laws and parents keep most kids in school.

Yet within those limits, we can and do make choices. If I devote my full attention to revising an article today, that frees up time tomorrow for more work or even some play. If I head out for a walk, I’ll have more work to do later. But I’ll feel better physically and have a chance to enjoy nature.

Even seemingly small choices matter. No, I don’t really want to unload the dishwasher. But if I do the chore, my husband won’t have to. That could free up a bit of time for us to relax together later.

No, we don’t always make wise choices. Even mishaps present us with choices, though. We can choose to learn from our mistakes, or not. We can decide to look on the bright side and move forward, or not.

As I write this, 2013 is just beginning. I’m looking forward to lots of new adventures this year. You probably are, too. Here’s hoping we all choose wisely. Happy New Year!

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