How Do You Only Make Good Decisions?

M*A*S*H Set in Malibu Creek State Park

The boys and I are sitting around a table under clear blue skies talking about life. It is one of those moments that never leaves my mind because we have done it a million times before and will do it again a million times more.

Except this time around we are in that funny place in between college and being eligible to apply for Social Security benefits. We still look at the girls who pass by except the conversations often include comments about hoping our daughters don’t dress like that because she still doesn’t know as much as she think she does and even though we won’t automatically classify boys as jerks we remember.

We are dads and though we worry about the unthinkable and unmentionable we worry more about the nice boy. He is not going to force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do, but when she does he is not going to call or he is going to say something she doesn’t like or date her friend.

It is going to happen along with a million other things. Some of those will break her heart and there is not a damn thing we can do to stop it.

Life Happens

The guy with the perfect marriage tells us that they are splitting up. Says that after twenty plus years they have had enough and he can’t take it anymore.

It is not any one thing for him. They have an active sex life, she is still in shape and is a great mom but something is broken and they can’t fix it.

The two guys who are divorced look at each other and then ask him if he knows what he is getting into. One tells him that he doesn’t recommend it because “the cost is higher than you know.”

Another asks if he has met someone else and says that the table is a safe place and that nothing will be revealed. Just as he finishes we all start laughing because it sounds ridiculous. We don’t mean to give him a hard time but it is just one of those moments. The group of us have been friends for more than 30 years so there is a certain level of comfort and understanding that exists among us all.

He tells us he hasn’t met anyone and repeats that his sex life is great. Wife does anything and everything in bed but they don’t talk because there is nothing left to be said.

Conversation moves on and we compare notes about our professional lives. Most of us have been through some major changes and all of us feel like our world is very different from the ones our fathers occupied.

One of the fellas says it is about making smart, educated decisions and then moving with it.

How Do You Only Make Good Decisions?

His comment irritates me because it is pat and simplistic. How do you only make good decisions when you have limited control is what I want to know.

There are so many variables and factors that come into play in every part of your life. I point across the table, “Mr. Perfect” is splitting up with his wife but if it was up to her they would stay married.

I got laid off from one job because they lost a contract and I wasn’t willing to take 40% pay cut. John had to stop playing softball because he was hit by a car.

He looks at me and says that he understands what I am saying but he disagrees.”Smart and educated decisions protect you.”

I roll my eyes at him and shake my head. “It is a good thing I have known you for 35 years because otherwise I would wonder if you were stupid.”

We laugh together, it is an old joke and then I tell him that sometimes it is ok to say you are wrong.

He gives me the finger and I tell him to bend over and grab his ankles.


Left the boys hours before to run some errands before I head off to the gym. It is the end of a lazy day and I am feeling pretty good about life in general.

Flip on the radio and am absent-mindedly listening to talk radio while driving into the sun. The glare is awful and I make a point to slow down because I can’t see if the streetlight is red or green.

Unfortunately guy driving the bus behind me thinks it is green so instead of slowing down he hits me and in the midst of getting thrown through the windshield I can’t help but think how this moment proves that I was right about how we are never in as much control of our lives as we think we are.

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  1. Karen December 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Jack, I really enjoyed reading this post – it’s very well-written. I felt like I was right there with you guys. I also like how you ended it. I hope you and your car are okay. If you ever do discover the secret to making only good decisions, please let me know. I can often use help in that department ; )

    • Jack December 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you, I really appreciate that. Fortunately the car and I are great and I can promise you if I ever discover the secret I will share it…for only $19.99 for the first session and 4 additional payments or something like that.

      Might as well make a buck while doing it. 😉

      Hope you had a great weekend.

  2. Stacie December 15, 2013 at 7:48 am

    So true Jack. I hope you didn’t really get tossed through the windshield!

  3. Larry December 14, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Next time maybe you can prove yourself right in a less destructive way. Not worth getting yourself killed to say I told you so.
    Regarding what your friend said, I find it hard to believe that an adult could truly believe that. It sounds like the words of someone who is completely sheltered.

  4. Natalie DeYoung December 14, 2013 at 9:56 am

    This is my favorite post of yours that I think that I’ve ever read. It’s got me thinking…
    Also, my husband (who does not read blogs) was looking over my shoulder and said, “Wow, this guy is good. If I read blogs, I’d read this guys.” Thought I’d pass along the compliment.

  5. J. Milburn December 14, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Truly, life has a way of taking a smart and educated decision, lifting it by the lapels, and slapping it silly for its effrontery. Great post on how we aren’t quite as in control as we like to think we are!

  6. Julie Barrett December 14, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Making smart and educated decisions gives you the self-impression that you know where you are going and have complete control over the process. That is not the way it usually works. Life will suck you in and spit you out, to one degree or another. Remember the expression “you have to take the bitter with the sweet?” I’m not so sure. It is all one unrolling, unveiling process…and you don’t know what you’re going to get. If you stay open and can shift and change as needed, that is probably the best way to learn the most…and probably the way through happiness.

    You cannot judge someone else’s marriage. I wonder sometimes if what we think is dead can be revived. If you let all the marbles roll away by opening your hand, is the hand still just fine?

  7. Jens P. Berget December 14, 2013 at 4:15 am

    I am doing my best to tell my kids that not making a decision is also kind of a decision. And, if you’re not deciding, people will decide for you, and that’s no fun. On the other hand, once in a while, it’s good to just be along for the ride.

    • Jack December 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

      You are right, every time you don’t make a choice you are making a choice Sometimes it is hard to find the right balance of control and just going along with life.

  8. Betsy Cross December 14, 2013 at 3:46 am

    I tell my kids to make a decision…and then make more after that one….for the rest of their lives. Live with the consequences and keep making decisions….what other way is there?

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