Friday, February 26, 2010

Making Good Choices...

Children by the Sea in Guernsey
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

One of my co-workers gave her little four-year old boy an expensive toy, and admonished him not to break it -- which of course he promptly did. It's one of Murphy's Laws that the most expensive toy will get broken first. The little fellow's mother was annoyed with him, and later that evening as she listened to him saying his bedtime prayers, she heard him say, "... and please, God, help me to make good choices..." When she told me the story, I couldn't help laughing. Somehow, at the age of four, this little guy had figured out the key to life -- making good choices.

How many of us have made bad choices somewhere along the way? I know I have -- lots of them. Of course, at the time they seemed like good choices, and even despite the advice of older, wiser folks I have still occasionally managed to make bad choices. Sometimes we can head the consequences off at the pass, and get our lives back on track without too much damage being done. Other times we have to live with the consequences for a very long time.

“Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” ... Robert Louis Stevenson

Fortunately in my life, I have learned from my choices, and the consequences have not been too harsh. In fact, sometimes -- if we're lucky -- the consequences of our poor choices can turn out to be blessings in disguise. The trick, though, as the little fellow says, is to learn to make good choices. I hope God answers his prayer.



Amy said...

Jo, It's hard to fathom that a 4 year old would use the word "choice" in his prayer. He has probably been taught already what the word means. A very sweet story, indeed!

That being said, if we all made good choices throughout our days, how boring would we be? Most of my poor choices occurred in my twenties. Later, in therapy, it was pointed out that I spent my 20's in "delayed adolescence." If I'd made those potentially fatal choices in my teens, I probably wouldn't have survived. Survival is at the heart of the matter I believe.

Renoir was a perfect choice to compliment your though provoking post today, Jo!

Jennifer D said...

Such a smart boy, ahead of the game for sure. I think I make better choices as I age. I was a real dummy in my 20's. ;-)

Jennifer D said...

I love the painting ! A good choice.
I just watched a documentary about the Impressionists and Renoir is one of my fav's. Thanks for sharing.

Smalltown RN said...

Ah yes choices. Life is certainly full of them....good and's what we do with them that counts....isn't it?

Like so many I have made good and bad choices....I like to think that I have learn't something from those bad choices.

Great topic always.

DUTA said...

Sweet picture, sweet boy, sweet prayer.

Maybe if we had all prayed in childhood as this little boy, asking for guidance from the Superpower, we wouldn't have made bad choices in life.

Owen said...

Love the line about a "banquet of consequences"... so true, so true...

Kitty Moore said...

I don't believe there is such a thing as a 'wrong' or 'bad' choice because I think we are the sum of all our experiences, good and bad.

Kitty x

Whitney Lee said...

I love the story! And that is why I don't even give my kids the expensive toys.

I have to say I admire you. There are times I've made poor choices while fully aware that they were poor choices. I would love to say that I always made what I believed to be the best choice at the time, but no such luck!

DJan said...

Sometimes you don't recognize a good choice until long past the time the decision is made. And on the other end, something that seems like a bad choice can end up changing one's life for the better, after all. The little boy, I imagine, was given a lecture about making good or bad choices, don't you think? Why else would he say that prayer?? Or maybe he's a grownup in a kid's body...

Katy said...

Am I the only one who thinks the mom in this story needs to make better choices? I mean, if you think something is really expensive and you don't want it to get broken, you probably shouldn't hand it to a 4 year old.

That said, I have obviously gone down my fair share of not so rainbow colored paths. I regret some of the darker paths I've walked down, but I do see that I have learned something from each of them.

nomore said...

Just I suppose a very cute a gentleman !

Cloudia said...

Excellent post!

Aloha, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Brenda said...

That is a good story because I can just picture the little boy saying this. It would put a smile on my face if I were his mother. But yes, like someone else said...It wasn't a good idea to give him an expensive toy.
Live and Learn...I always had to learn everything in life the hard way or the wrong way first.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

With awareness like that, your co-worker's son will have a very successful and hopefully, happy, life. I'm still hoping to improve my ratio of good vs bad choices.

the walking man said...

No matter the choice the best possible outcome is still available if we remain adaptable to fluid situations eh?

Susan said...

I love the Buddhist refusal to put value on outcomes...this one's good...this one's bad.
Consequences are experiences...and even the ones that seem to be the worst can offer some truly valuable lessons.
I'd like to be enlightened enough to honestly say I have only "experiences"...but I'm nowhere near.
I still hope for no pain and all gain.
Sounds like this little guy's way ahead of me - he's taking personal responsibility without beating himself up.
A small, toy-breaking Buddha!

Russell said...

Every choice has a consequence. And the best school is the school of hard knocks.

I tell my students all the time that nothing beats experience.

All of us have made bad choices along the road of life. The secret is to keep getting up and putting one foot in front of the other.

Persistence is often the difference between winners and losers.

Carla said...

This old lady never learns. I always follow my heart instead of my head. Sometimes I think I was put on earth to show the rest of you what happens when you make bad choices. I'm lucky I'm not homeless. :-)

Kathryn said...

Ok, in reading over the comments - there are no bad choices? Um, several things that bring prison sentences & pain to other people would fall in the category of "bad," i think. If you can't term choices as "good" or "bad," then you can't incarcerate someone driving drunk who then kills an innocent person.

Some bad choices very quickly lead from "ok, this is not going to be good" to tragedy. Fortunately, most of us miss that extreme.

Being aware of actions/reactions/consequences at a young age is a good way to being making better choices thru life, tho everyone will have their fair share of mistakes.

Jo said...

Amy, I think most of us spend our 20s in delayed adolescence. And it seems to be projecting into peoples 30s now. People seem to be getting more and more adolescent, later and later in life. Have you noticed?

Jennifer, I have heard it said that our brain doesn't finish developing until we are 25. Who knew! And, Renoir is one of my favorites too. :-)

Mary Anne, I have definitely learned from my bad choices, and I feel very bad for people who don't. They are the ones who end up at Main and Hastings, and it's heartbreaking.

Duta, yes, I remember when I was little, I had such big ideas, but somehow some of them went by the wayside. :-)

Owen, yes, isn't it a wonderful quote? And so true.

Kitty, yes, and some of our bad choices sometimes turn out to be the best choices.

Whitney, yes, I think we have all made bad choices, knowing what the consequences would be. I know I have.

Djan, that little boy's mother was surprised to hear him saying the prayer, because they had not taught him to think that way. He came up with that on his own. It made her chuckle too. :-)

Katy, I wondered that about the toy as well, but toys seem to be getting more expensive and sophisticated even for four year-olds, don't they? Perhaps his Mom learned a lesson too.

Nomore, I have met the little boy, and yes, he is a very cute little gentleman.

Cloudia, thank you. :-)

Brenda, yes, his mom learned a lesson too, and I think that's why she chuckled about the little boy's prayer. We all have a lesson to learn sometimes.

Susan, oh, goodness yes. I can still be a complete and total idiot at times. *sigh* I guess it is called humanity.

Mark, you're so right. Nothing is ever completely black or white, and we have to learn to adapt.

Susan, yes, a little Buddha. I guess you could say he is on the path to enlightenment. I think awareness of the consequences of one's choices is the first step to making good ones. And as long as our bad choices don't hurt other people, perhaps they can be good experiences.

Russell, "The secret is to keep getting up and putting one foot in front of the other." I totally agree. I can't even count the number of times in my life when I have had to do that. Never give up!

Carla, *heh* I often say the same thing. But I am like one of those little punching clowns with the big feet. I just pop back up again. :-)

Kathryn, yes, it does seem to be that some folks just can't catch a break. Some folks do everything right, and still their choices seem bad. And they do end up in prison or homeless. It's very sad.