Friday, November 26, 2010

Decisions Not Made

It seems like every November evening now even with the shortening days the sun still decides to put on a drama on the western horizon. I miss the evening news as the sky hypnotizes me, somehow each sunset like a handprint finding unique ways to imprint itself on the skyline. The photo above was snapped three nights ago, whereas tonight's production was enhanced by the blackened outline of a dirigible pausing in air, and then looping gently over twin peaks as it turned 180 degrees in a wide arc heading back to the old Oakland air port. I could see the tiny cabin lights under the giant balloon. In proportion to what's attached above, that cabin is so minute. For a birthday about twenty years ago Lee treated me to such a flight. The memory is fresh as yesterday. Two things about it both shocked and thrilled me. One was that in order to board, each passenger (it only held six) had to lunge for a swinging rope ladder. The air ship, like a puppy on a leash, was being held somewhat precariously be four men with guide ropes. It groaned and gyrated, yearning to be free. The other thing is that once aloft the windows of the dirigible were wide open, and passengers could actually lean out. Well, I leaned a wee bit out, especially as we "parked" high over the traffic on the Golden Gate bridge, but my decision was tentative, like so many in my life, balancing safety against risk.
Reflecting yesterday on last Thanksgiving, spent on Maui, I thought about what a poor choice it had been to go there, a place so dear to my heart. It turned out I was so sick with allergies that I spent most of the time in bed. Month after month as the year rolled on I was plagued by health problems, one after another. It seemed like each health crisis was in some way caused or perpetuated by my faulty choices in activity, or physician, or reasoning. Or was it fate, and not poor reasoning? Goodness gracious, I hope this will be a different year.
Another memory of a conversation many decades ago comes to mind. Folks who knew my friend Marcia, now many years deceased, marveled at her sage wisdom. As well as a college professor of music, researcher and author, Marcia was born to the role of a Cherokee medicine woman (yes, they had women, not just men) and her own life was one plagued by which role to follow. Searching for the right path, she flipped back and forth more than three times that I know of. At times she would go back to reservation living, wearing her grandfather's cloak, the inside of which was filled with many pockets, too numerous to count, full of herbs.
Once, while ruminating over a decision in my usual style, Marcia said "Bonnie, there is no such thing as a bad decision. BAD stands for BEST AVAILABLE DATA. We all make decisions intending for them to be right, and consider all the facts we know. No one intends to make a bad decision. Sometimes more data becomes available, and then we make a different decision."
I doubt that Marcia invented this pearl of wisdom, but what a comforting thought.
As I write this I'm thinking especially of my friend in France, searching for the right alternative/additional therapy for ovarian cancer, and of my friend who three years ago made the same kind of hard decision in his successful fight with melanoma.
My ruminations fade in significance. Somehow what color to paint the living room ceiling, and what brand of hearing aid to buy, seem like decisions of such little consequence, like the wee cabin under the giant airship.

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