Bill-newby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

There are some for whom life is a predictable trajectory, who are propelled by deep-seated family coercions, for example, who effectively haven’t anything to say about the direction they’re headed or what they’ll end up doing.  The prescription is often the product of sustained social pressure such as aligning with the tradition of a particular profession like medicine or law; or in some cases it is an accommodation of the person’s overwhelming shortcomings to ensure he has something to do for the rest of his life such as being a stock broker in a closely held corporation.  In rare instances it is the ambition of an entire clan to produce a leader or statesman sometimes of a particular ethnicity or religion.  For a man to remove himself from such high-minded destiny is seldom an easy undertaking and is frequently wrought with tragedy. To maintain the course is at times equally foreboding.  On occasion its inevitability requires almost sacrificial submission.

For the rest of us life tends more to the unforeseeable (and one would therefore hope as a consequence that the perception is less about an irrevocable fate). Certainly there are some who by contrast to those with a predestined future are eternally confined by less complimentary circumstances within an orbit without chance of breaking free. But the partnership of even limited ingenuity and enthusiasm generally ensures a less predictable and possibly more dynamic course.  For those who have a measure of intelligence and moderate financial means the possibilities are at least technically wide ranging.  But even in such a spirited environment there are inevitably significant turning points, occasions upon which the decision to go left or right is seminal.

Choice, as emancipating as it is, is nonetheless daunting as it commands enquiring assiduity failing which the ramifications can be unintended and are in any event by definition limiting. Naturally none of us is especially well equipped to handle such elemental purpose when the provocation arises.  More often than not we respond intuitively which, while having the creditable flavour of instinct, is a response which may nonetheless be tainted by less than desirable visceral features to the discredit of rational considerations. How to contrive the resolve, whether as rational or irrational, whether short-sighted or long-term, whether cautious or adventurous, is impossible and depends upon innumerable prejudices, combinations and variations.  What however is certain is that tangible results will flow from whatever selection is made, results which will normally be markedly different depending upon the path selected.  Whether by design or default we are charting our future in more than just sand.

One is tempted to trivialize the broad strokes of life on the theory that they are but a springboard for the inherent talents of a person, a medium through which the latent strengths of that person will ultimately shine no matter what the manner of expression.  True to an extent but what is equally true is that opportunity does not appear at every intersection.  What counts is not only the quality of expression but the expression itself.  It is therefore undeniable that how one elects to travel in life is strategic to the outcome and to the assessment of personal fulfillment.  Que sera, sera! 

It is oddly less certain whether we’re able to change the course of events when things do not go well. Some commitments are  sticky.  Some are purportedly for life “until death do us part”.  Others are simply inconveniently prolonged or cumbersome, perhaps involving inordinate devotion of time or capital.  Extracting one’s self from complicated affairs can be terribly wearing.  Some obligations are ruinous and may leave a man nothing but a shell of his former self.  The desire to achieve a turning point in life may nonetheless persist. Getting there is another story.  How often do we witness a fellow human being caught in a perpetual struggle in spite of his obvious desire for change?  The objective of change is however not unlike any other crossroad in that the choice of one entails the relinquishment of another; and many are not prepared to suffer the consequences.  How inconceivable it is to endure the public demonstration of our prior imprudence!

In the end the outcome for any of us is virtually set in stone, whether by surrounding circumstances or our own ostensible choice.  There is a point beyond which the trajectory, orbit or ambition is unalterable.  There is nothing to be achieved by remorse if indeed one senses any regret.  It may help philosophically to elevate one’s station in life to something approaching predetermination though it amounts to nothing more than absolution of free will.  Who on the other hand is capable of defining the mysterious means by which we have become what we are?  Do we indeed astound ourselves  as we stand staring into the future at the crossroads of  our life?