The Sweetness of the Vine

Selection From

The Sweetness of the Vine

Howard, my shrink, and I don’t think he liked to be called that, once or twice said, “There are two ways to make decisions in life.” Maybe he said three, but I can’t for the life of me remember the third. Two paths. One was to go where life drew me – like the river, just keep flowing wherever I am taken. I like the image of a sailboat with no rudder. Is that what they call those little things in the back that steer? Better look that one up. But anyway, a sailboat buffeted by the wind this way and that on a lake. To choose that path is to accept that any shore I land on is just as good as another.

Then there’s the other possibility. To pick where I’m going, set the course, and go there. To do that assumes a gathering of information about all shores and which one offers the best options, the best features, as it were. Like buying a cell phone package, or, better yet, choosing a mate. That can stop you right in your tracks. Having all that info at your fingertips and then wading through. Decisions are just so much filler is what I say.

Then what matters now? I am making decisions like hot cakes. I took a wall out of my living room. To open things up, air them out. See the day from all angles. I took that wall out, and discovered, wouldn’t you know, that the post which held all weight, all structural necessity of that house, was delicately balanced on two tiny two-by-four pieces of wood set on their side and backed against each other. The last carpenter must have cut the post too short by four inches and faked the rest. It was a good thing, the new carpenter told me, that we found that little patchwork job because… I’ll let him speak for himself. “When I jacked the beams up those two little pieces of wood just collapsed. You never know when they would have given out.”

Isn’t that just the way life is – all resting on two little pieces of wood ready to implode and me just going along as if that house will stand forever. So I started packing up. Well, really it wasn’t cause and effect. I was already clearing out, preparing for what matters now. Whatever that might be. I was going through what mattered then. Boxing things and labeling.