When I was a kid, the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) series was one of my favorite collections of books. Each story started with a compelling beginning and then after a few pages, you encounter two or three options. Option one may send you to page 10, while option 2 sends you to page 38. You read on, receive options, make choices, and repeat the process until you eventually reach the end of a story. The beauty was that as soon as you got to one ending, you could start over and have a completely different story experience. This was particularly great if your ending resulted in being frozen in ice, or turned into a big pile of salt. To me, the concept is brilliant.
Recently, while helping my mother downsize her home, I found an old CYOA title, “Mutiny in Space”. I had a surge of nostalgia and placed it carefully in my keep pile. And then a thought hit me. There is an undercurrent of universal truths in the CYOA concept that perfectly describes life as an adult. It certainly describes my own life. The truths are: you have options, you have choices, you have unpredictable outcomes, you must embrace the act of starting all over again, and the process can be something that you can enjoy.
I guess this idea hit home for a few reasons. First, I’ve noticed that as adults we are faced with juggling hundreds of options and small or large choices every day. It is both exhilarating and exhausting. And for those adults who are responsible for caring for or raising children the number increases dramatically. Second, I’m at a time in my life where I recognize and feel a sense of awe by the weight that’s carried along with our choices. More often, the consequences or results from poor choices present themselves like a slap in the face vs. a gentle, youthful whisper. Healthy choices certainly help direct the path towards positive outcomes, but every single one of us has to deal with unpredictable blessings as well as challenges. And sometimes those challenges can bring us to our knees and make it feel hard or nearly impossible to move forward. And third, as much as I embrace and believe deeply in the power of transformation of any circumstance, at any age, I’m not naïve. Change is hard and can be complicated and uncomfortable. Yet as adults we often are in positions where we are forced to transform. This may show up in having to change habits, or ideas about people in our life, maybe we have to change concepts of how we thought life would turn out, or maybe we are literally starting a whole new chapter.
I am in all four of those spaces now, and I know I’m not alone. And so I say to myself and to anyone who has the opportunity to read this, and who can relate, enjoy it. I remember when I read CYOA books as a child, I would feel ownership over the options, and bright anticipation as I flipped back and forth through the pages. It makes me smile now, because I know that a large factor in my overall thrill was faith. It would work out. And if I became frozen, or a pile of salt, I could start over until really, it was time to put the book away.
By no means am I simplifying the experience of life, particularly when it is dark, murky, hard, and heavy. I am only saying, with every ounce of faith I possess, we have options, we have choices, we should choose our own adventure, and we should enjoy it.
Note: As a writer I am big on not infringing on copyrights or trademarks, and just overall honoring the energy of an artist’s work and creation. Please find information on the history of Choose Your Own Adventure here. http://www.cyoa.com/pages/history-of-cyoa