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The Choice that Made You

This Week’s Writing Prompt

Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.

– John Maxwell from “Talent Is Never Enough”


Think of a choice you made in your life that defined you.

        • What was this choice?
        • At the time, did you consider it a positive or a negative choice?
        • What were the effects of this choice?
        • Would you make the same choice today?

Write a vignette illustrating where you are in your life today as a result of your choice, and then flashback to the moment when you made this critical decision. Demonstrate any struggle you had to decide and show what happened as a result.


  • Beverly
    Posted July 7, 2020 at 11:56 pm

    As laid on the cold cot with the words of the judge going though my head. “If you do this again I don’t know what to do with you.”
    He was speaking of me running away from my foster home again. In a funny turn of events the judge had been a prosecutor in prior years. He procured my step father. He had a soft spot for me. Even going as far to let me choice three foster homes. But that’s not the choice that made such an impact on my life.
    That night I didn’t make the foxhole prayers with God as I always did. You know the prayer. God if you get me out of this I won’t do it again. No this night I prayed a differently. God, just give me a hug. All at once the fear left my body and I drifted into a peace sleep. To this day I can still can feel the comfort of being enveloped in a sweet embrace. The next day I was sent to Tennessee Preparatory School. The school is a model of a foundation I am going to start here in Florida for the foster care system All because I chose to let my true father show me love with a simple hug.

    • j newman
      Posted July 8, 2020 at 2:30 am

      A heart-warming story, well told. Thank you, Bev.

  • j newman
    Posted July 8, 2020 at 2:26 am

    Alphabetically, albeit not chronologically, my career—four decades with the military and a variety of federal alphabet agencies—ran the geographic gamut from Afghanistan through Zimbabwe. (Spoiler alert: I survived.) In my post-retirement dotage, I’ve felt a powerful urge to grab the more interesting snatches of my memories and divulge them to my son before I lose the faculty of recall—as senescence overwhelms sentience and relegates my tales to the oubliette of Orwell’s Memory Hole. Here is my memory of the decision that sealed my fate to lock me onto the trail my life would follow: 
    After graduation, Gunnery Sergeant Pellegrino assembled the platoon to announce assignments. Alphabetically, he called off our names and added, in a tone that sounded as automatic as it was ominous, “WESTPAC!” This was the designation for the Western Pacific Military Command, which, for us, meant just one thing—Vietnam. Before beginning his grim announcements, the gunny had explained. “All you jarheads can expect to go to I-Corps.” He pronounced it as “Eye-Core.” He continued, “That’s the region of South Vietnam closest to the northern infiltration routes. It borders directly on North Vietnam and the most active part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” Then Gunny got around to bellowing what would prove to be the sole non-WESTPAC posting, “Newman, Kansas City!” 
    After all the announcements sunk in and the hubbub died down, I knocked on the D.I.s bulkhead to request Office Hours with the gunny. 
    Gunny Pellegrino’s voice barked, “Enter!”
    I stepped in and snapped to attention in front of his table. “Sir. What’s in Kansas City? Sir.”
    “At ease, Marine.” Gunny glanced at the clipboard lying on his table. “JUMPS.”
    Well now, let me confess, during Rot-C active duty summer camp at Fort Bragg, I’d had enough preliminary paratrooper training to convince me that Gawd didn’t design me to leap out of planes, especially not the airborne type. The butt-puckering drop from the thirty-four-foot tower was all the proof I’d needed. That lesson was reinforced by watching as a more advanced trooper splatted into the North Carolina mud from twelve hundred feet, tangled chute streaming after him all the way down—like a plummeting kite’s tail. 
    Trying to act unconcerned about my JUMPS designation, I asked the gunny, “An’ what’s JUMPS? Sir.”
    “Well, lets see what it says here.” Again, he looked down at his clipboard, taking more time than before. “The Corps gonna make you a computer programmer.” Gunny’s lips twisted into a vinegary sneer, like he’d just chomped down on half a dead cockroach in his second helping of pecan pie. “So you can be part of a team creating a Joint Uniform Military Pay System.” 
    “Aye-aye, Sir! Thank you, Sir!” 
    Well, that sounded about safe enough. If I’d had any dang sense at all, I should have kept my big yap clamped shut. But K.C. sounded terribly dull. Scuttlebutt reached me that there was a computer operation at the Marine base at Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii. That night the soundtrack of “Blue Hawaii” played in my head and visions of pretty wahines shaking their hips filled my dreams. All night the same thought ran through my head—Kaneohe Bay! I’ll be living in high cotton—well, high pineapple—till my discharge. 
    The next day I went back to the gunny and requested a change of assignment. 
    Now you’ve heard them say to be careful what you wish for. Well, it seemed I was wishing too hard.
    I suspect that you’re way ahead of me here. Kaneohe Bay Marine Base falls in the WESTPAC military region. To make the change from K. C. to Kaneohe Bay meant requesting new orders—for WESTPAC. Those K.C. orders didn’t last long enough for me to even learn if the posting was to Kansas or Missouri. At my own foolish request, my orders were changed to WESTPAC. Once I got onto that conveyor belt, there was no exit for niceties such as a stopover on the beaches of Oahu. I figured if I complained to the gunny, he’d say something along the lines of Pa’s old dictum, “Shoulda knowd that stick was a snake afore ya picked it up.” 
    You’ve heard tell of out-of-the-pan-into-the-fire, well I hadn’t been anywhere near the pan—this was more a case of out-of-the-pantry-into-the-inferno. One lesson I came to understand awfully late—when the winds and currents are carrying you along safely between the devil and the deep blue, that’s no time to go shopping for a better boat, and definitely don’t rock the one carrying you.
    When the new—Vietnam—orders came through, I took solace in the fact that at least I still had my critical computer M.O.S. As it turned out, that lined me up for posting to a warehouse at the Support Battalion near Da Nang, Vietnam. As I figured it, that should have made me as safe as any Marine in Vietnam outside of embassy guard duty in Saigon. Unfortunately, I failed to take account of Captain Codd.

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