February 27, 2011

Choices ?

Today I remember my dad’s birthday. He was born on February 28. I always wondered what it would have been like for those who were born on the 29th, they would only be able to celebrate their birthday every four years, on the actual date of their birth.

In a way I felt sorry for them; like they got cheated or something. But in reality, they could not help this any more than we can choose the family we all are born into.

None of us got to choose our parents; although some parents get to choose their children. ( I just re-read this, and found that I am using both past and present tense, but this helps to make the point.) There are very obvious choices we get to make, like who the parents of our children will be. Whom we associate with, whose advances we choose to ignore; as long as it is not one who has authority over us. Like flashing red lights behind you, you’d better not ignore those.

Some of life’s choices are made for us. Some seem to allow more freedom of our will than others and some of life’s realities are borne on choices we made earlier. Since we cannot manipulate time we need to make informed choices, whenever we can. We don’t have the luxury to change the past, but we can in some form affect our future. Of course there are many factors which we cannot control, or even influence.

I received a draft notice within the week after we were married. I had no choice to ignore this. I could have chosen to go to Canada, or Sweden, or maybe even go back to the old country, but I chose to obey the summons. Once in this situation, I had some control about what I wanted to do in the armed forces. I choose to be in the medical field, expecting hospital work and so avoid combat duties.
But, I wound up as a combat medic in the infantry. I did my year in Viet-Nam and experienced the horrors of combat. But now, many years later I can get together with others from the company I served as a medic. We have a common bond, we can reminisce about our experiences. There is honor and pride, particularly about our Viet-Nam service.

I am not saying that one needs to make a choice to serve in combat, but believe it or not there are worse choices one can make. No one is guaranteed a trouble free life, a future free of hurt, or avoidance of the loneliness and pain of separation, irrespective of the choices he or she made. To try to choreograph you future is at best an exercise in futility. “Exercise” being the positive aspect of this. To become president you need to have made choices and sacrifices along the way, but even then there are many more “also ran” than those who actually won the race.

When I moved (emigrated) to the US, I did not envision myself to be a career military man, those choices were made for me. But, as opportunity arose to be a better medic, or get advanced training, I made informed choices. With hindsight, many of these choices were good.

We have enjoyed the retirement benefits of military service. We were able to retire at a younger age than many and travel and spent time in some places others dream about. We have friends and acquaintances all over the world, but we don’t have close, lifelong friends, who have always lived in the same area.

In spite of all our choices, good ones, or mistakes, there remains one truth: God remains the same. Just as I could not cause my birth, I could not cause my re-birth. God choose me, I am adopted into His family and ultimately the only choice I have, is to follow Him.

February 4, 2011

Mid Winter Thoughts (2)

Winter is waxing a
nd waning. We live in the “Heartland” and as such have moderately severe winters. But we are south of Minnesota and that really makes a difference. It seems like most of the big storms missed our neck of the woods, at least partially. We have been spared the large amounts of snow. Fortunately, nothing like last year; when we had snow falling in foot amounts.
The news informs us that a lot of areas south of us are worse of with snowfall than we are.

So much for going south, this winter! We did stay in during the last blizzard, which came through here Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Got a lot of pictures edited and made collages of our trip-to-Holland pictures. Some of these pictures have been posted in the blogs of this fall. We are going to a midwinter tropical event tonight. The central Iowa wineries have a “Heart of Iowa Wine trail Event.” This event takes place in the warm environment of the Des Moines Botanical Center.

(I included a picture from last year.) An evening of fun and faux tropical environment in the middle of the winter in the middle of the country.