The Power of Choices | Part 1

“The choice is clear and concise; one can either enjoy a better life through discipline and the right choices or settle for a life of regret…” — Rick Cox

It wasn’t until the age of forty that I truly came face to face with the reality of what happens as a result of the choices we make. I was meeting with my cousin, one I had grown up with and to which I had been very close. Something was going on in his life and though I didn’t know what it was I sensed it wasn’t good. He was down, despondent, bitter and angry. He told me God was not only against him, God had it out for him. He had so many questions, but his questions were all over the map. He was confused and disillusioned. I could even sense a deep desperation. So, for a couple of hours we sat in my car talking. During the entire time I kept asking God to help me respond with the right answers.

It was strange to find myself in this position at forty talking to my cousin about life and its values. He was older by two and a half years and had been a person I looked up to from the age of six yet; here he was asking me for advice. I was truly at a loss for why it was me he sought advice rather than me seeking advice from him. As we sat there, my mind went back to when I was twenty years old. At twenty, although a hard worker and already a licensed contractor since the age of eighteen, I was quite the rebel. I had long hair and drank a lot of beer, at least until I was almost twenty one. It was just prior to turning twenty one that something happened causing me to quit drinking altogether (another story for another day). After I quit drinking, I started smoking marijuana with my cousin and a few others three or four times a week. During that short period we did nothing after work other than sit around, listen to music and smoke pot. What a productive life…NOT!

Here I was an ambitious person always thinking of how to get to the next level yet, I woke up to the fact I was sitting around wasting my time, accomplishing nothing. I began to realize how truly unproductive these ‘smoke sessions’ were as well as how they were adversely affecting my entire life. DURING THIS TIME OF REFLECTION I REALIZED THESE SMOKE SESSIONS WOULD NOT GET ME WHERE I WANTED TO BE!

There was another thing that was important to me; that of proving my Dad wrong. My Dad had told me most of my life I would be a failure. I am sure he was doing so with the belief I would rebel and rise up to make something better of myself. I set out to do just that. At twenty two, I decided to stop ‘attending these pot smoking sessions.’ I also made a commitment to waste no more of my time.

After nearly two hours of sitting in my car talking about life, my cousin looked at me and said, “Look at where you are in life versus where I am. God doesn’t love me. If He did I wouldn’t be where I am. I wouldn’t feel the way I do. I would have more going for me just like you.” I remember this entire scene as vivid as if it was a few minutes ago. I also remember it coming crystal clear to me why the difference in our lives.

I looked at him and said, “Life is about choices and disciplines. It is about doing a little bit each day so that twenty years down the road you are where you are and I am where I am. It isn’t God’s fault. It all happened a little at a time. Little choices like you continuing to smoke pot and cigarettes. Other life choices you made causing your wife to leave asking for a divorce. The choices you have made each and every day are the reason you are where you are. The bottom line is your life is a result of your choices and disciplines and my life is a result of mine.”

During my discourse with him it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had decided nearly twenty years ago to go in another direction. I had decided to take another path. The decision I made back then as well the as decision to continue on a different path from what I had been traveling was why we were not on the same level. The decision to choose the tough road when coming to the fork instead of the easy ones like many of my friends, was why I was where I was all this time later. And, though it was all this time later, it all happened a little bit at a time. The daily choices I made to follow a few disciplines and correct a few errors in judgment brought me to where I was as we sat in there in my vehicle. Unlike my cousin, I was not living with the weight of regret; as a matter of fact I was enjoying the result of my choices and disciplines.

There is a country song by George Jones called “CHOICES.” The lyrics are as follows:

I was tempted, by an early age I found
I liked drinkin’ oh no I’ve never turned it down
There were loved ones, but I turned them all away
Now I am living and dying with the choices I’ve made

I’ve had choices since the day that I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong
If I’d listened no, I wouldn’t be here today
Living and dying with the choices I’ve made

I guess I’m paying for the things that I have done
If I could go back from this darkness to the sun
But I’m still losing this game of life I’ve played
Living and dying with the choices I’ve made

I’ve had choices since the day that I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong
If I’d listened Lord I wouldn’t be here today
Living and dying with the choices I’ve made

When you really look at the words of this song, the writers, Billy Yates and Mike Curtis, were brilliant: “From the day that I was born there were voices that told me right from wrong AND IF I HAD LISTENED, I wouldn’t be here today, living and dying with the choices I made – paying for the things I have done – losing at the game of life – living and dying with the choices I have made…”

Life is truly a culmination of YOUR CHOICES. So, what is your choice going to be? It is never too late to change your mind and head in the right direction. It is never too late to start making the right choices – NEVER!

Best of LUCK as you
Labor Under Correct Knowledge…


Rick Cox