Life is full of choices. Big ones and small ones. We are raised to take responsibility for our lives and the choices we make. And if we are from America, we are raised in a culture that celebrates personal choice at the highest level. The underlying message goes that if you make the right choices, happiness, health, fortune all await you. It's up to you.
But luck plays into the equation too. As does personality and circumstance. It's not like we're all born at the same starting line, given the same tools and set on our way. There are lot's of variables to contend with along the journey. Like whether you get diabetes for instance. A few of us are handed that variable, which brings with it a lifetime of additional choices and challenges and opportunities, and yes, even on occasion, gifts.
I happen to be a person who has taken responsibility for my life and choices very seriously. On the upside, I feel empowered to affect my life in profound and meaningful ways. I know I'm not a victim and I know deeply, that in spite of what has been handed me, I have many choices. I can have impact on my life, regardless. I can make things better.
But there's a rub here too. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in choices. Though I wouldn't want it any other way, I realize that all the choices I have in life, with the added layer of the million choices diabetes brings, leaves serious, responsible me feeling like I'm on a tight rope a lot of the time. I expect to make the right choices and when I "don't" (because I have a disease that shifts and changes for example) I often feel like I've failed. Over time, and with effort, I am learning to let go of that feeling, but the truth remains that that's where I go first. Which, by the way, adds another layer of effort: guilt, don't go there, it happens, let go, move on. Five more steps to gentleness. I'm learning to do it differently, but still it's not how I naturally see the world. It's not what I was raised to believe.
But life is a process. And through this process, I'm coming to understand more deeply, that there are infinite variations of living a full and healthy life with diabetes. And more importantly, some of them have to do with choices I can make, but many of them don't. Not surprisingly my personality factors into my experience of this disease, which means I see and feel my journey through a personal filter. Additionally, my particular personal circumstances, my history, mean I have certain choices that others may or may not have. And then there are factors like other health issues, length of time having the disease, biology and physiology, all of which also affect my journey. I'm beginning to understand more deeply, how diabetes is simply part of an equation. Understanding that each person's experience is a unique combination of diabetes plus personality plus circumstance plus choice plus biology, helps me to see the the difference between my particular choices and that of others. We all have a thousand choices to make about our disease every day, but because we're also different people, we may make different ones, based on the all the variables we don't share. Doing what's right for us, based on so many unique factors, and then living with the outcome. That makes total sense to me intellectually, but I must admit that I still feel burdened by the fact that choices aren't always pure or perfect. Choice means yes to one thing and no to another. And in the case of big choices, the difference between yes and no can be profound. Even though I know I've made the right choices for me, it doesn't always mean I don't feel sad about what they've meant for my life. Choice doesn't mean perfection necessarily.
So where this all lands is that I'm trying to have less regrets about the choices I do make, big and small. From this vantage point in my life, where I've made some tough calls that have set me down irreversible paths, this is a really important goal. I've made the choices I've made based on what I knew at the time. Diabetes played a huge role in some of these decisions. Choice plus circumstance plus personality plus luck. It's the equation for life. I guess that peace has to come from knowing that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time, based on who I am. That's the goal anyway.