Decisions: Decisions & Luck

When I look back at my life there were countless times in which particular happenstances defined where I am today, either positively, negatively or in a negative taken positively fashion. I wondered why these things happened. Was there a pattern? If so, could I understand it? Could I take the world on in a different way resulting in different outcomes? I guess we’ll see….

In pondering this I choose to use two models that involve only me. With these understood I can perhaps escalate to appreciate what happened with something as dense as a relationship, with two such individuals’ happenings to consider.

I compete in a sport at a reasonable level. I’ve had the same injury in each shoulder that required surgery each time. The first time this was not covered by health insurance for a variety of reasons. The second was. The first took two years to diagnose and treat, the second took a week. The first took two years to rehabilitate while six months after the second I no longer felt injured and continue to get strong every day. All of these improvements in time were a direct results of my trusted physiotherapist and I taking what happened with the first rehab, learning from it and making the second rehab perfect.

It would be difficult to describe the negative impact that the first injury had on my life. The frustration was endless. You wake up everyday and once again live with the fact that you are mentally ready to train, ready to go! But you can’t. If you train a little you’ll make it worse. We have work and hobbies for a reason. Our hobbies keep us sane. For me the hobby was a sport that allowed me to see daily, weekly, monthly and yearly how I progressing through micro, macro and mega goals. The frustration of not being able to address these tasks challenged my happiness constantly.

Where did this injury come from? I know for certain it came from a decision. A decision based on two factors. First, cash. Second, wanting to train around an injury. It started as a niggle. At the time I was not in a financial position to pay a sports doctor to assess the severity or each strain. I decided to avoid that range of movement to allow the niggle to rest. The niggle progressed through other ranges movement. Then I stopped using the shoulder completely and while training something else I tore both deltoids slightly. When the swelling went down it was clear that I had a serious problem. I was eventually diagnosed as having torn the biceps tendon from the inside of the shoulder. I gave myself a career-threatening injury because of a poor decision.

Some years later I met a girl and fell in love with her and her favourite sport, snowboarding. I enjoyed the week or two a year that I got away from the world and just boarded. I was now at the point where I could board and was learning to do more complex tricks. I spent some time in the park. I took a jump on the last day of the trip and crashed, tearing the other shoulder in the same way. When I think back now I remember several conversations about how many people hurt themselves on the last day of s boarding trip, due to tiredness and knowing there was no opportunity to make an attempt the next day. I also remember hiking down to the jump to take a look at the potential problems. That I was even thinking this way, on the last day, meant it was not the trick to do that day. Once again, I gave myself a career-threatening injury because of a poor decision.

Contrasting this, the best decision I have made in my life was to walk away. I had been offered a full scholarship to a top school for graduate work. Accepting this, I left home and moved away from all my loved ones to be alone in a new country. I immediately realised that for a collection of reasons I needed to leave. A purely professional decision, staying would have damaged my career incalculably. The upset was something I hadn’t experienced in my young life. Not that I was making the decision but the consequences of the decision. I returned home. The shame, the failure, the home-sick child. But my career grew on from this excellent decision. Having succeeded and lived away from home for several years I can conclude that I was correct. I still consider leaving this once in a lifetime chance my best decision.

I extrapolate this onwards through the various decisions of my life. I find that every circumstance I can recall culminated from an individual decision that I made at some point in my life. Work. Love. Friendships. Sport. Life.

Luck. I hear a lot of people talk about luck. Luck definitely exists. I occasionally play the lottery. The decision is that the insane odds against winning are worth a couple of bucks to me. But if I win a substantial sum it is due to chance. However, life is not a lottery. Each and every day we are faced with choices that allow us to make decisions. We can place ourselves in an environment where we are more likely to meet a compatible partner. We can place ourselves in an environment that can further our career. We can train not just hard but smart. Training hard, resting soft and taking out time.

My life is not as governed by luck as I might have thought. It is controlled to an infinitely greater extent by the decisions I make. To this end there is no point in my making the same mistakes repeatedly. The same decisions repeatedly. And then complaining repeatedly about the consequences. Blaming the world. Blaming other people. Blaming luck.

So how can I understand the decisions I have made? Sean O’Casey wrote a character whose eyes had a haunting way of looking in instead of looking out. In order to understand my decisions I’ve had to become self-analytical. I’ve had to be become self-critical. This is not an easy thing to do. No one likes to see themselves in a negative way. We will still make mistakes. But in doing so one can identify ones’ own mistakes. Once identified, one can endeavour not to make them again.

The world I live in is filled with randomness that we can not even attempt to control. But punctuating this are the aspects of the world that I have absolute control over. When I consider them more I come to the conclusion that I am an infinitely more determining factor in my world than luck. It takes courage to be introspective and self-critical. But in doing so we can perhaps move to a place where the decisions we make are more often the correct ones, the consequences more often those we desire and our world a resultant happier place.



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