Monday, October 16, 2017


Choice is an attractive concept.  Do you choose coffee or expresso?  Do you prefer neutral or primary colors?  Do you read or go for a walk when you aren't busy.  The idea of free will is that you may choose for yourself what to do.  Nadia Boulanger, who came and conducted the Goucher Glee Club in singing Faure's Requiem when I was in college, once said, "The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice,  love, and passion."  She impressed us mightily on her visit to the US, and her mini-lectures made me fall in love with words and see humans as namers of the universe.  But I chose to rehearse long hours instead of working on experiments for my biology senior thesis.  That choose had consequences.  I still love choral music.  My thesis was okay, not spectacular.  I have retired from being a biology professor and now I'm a creative writer.

One aspect of choice that fascinates me is choice when that is the only liberty one has.  This quotation from Vic Vujcic expresses that idea well. "Often people ask me how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs.  The quick answer is I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs or I can be thankful that I have a purpose.  I choose gratitude." I resonate to that response because I use a wheelchair a lot these days and can choose to be angry and downhearted about it or grateful I"m alive and can write and even go on hikes or outings using my scooter.  I first noticed this kind of choice when I read a biography of Anwar Sadat many years ago.  Imprisoned for political agitation in Egypt, he chose to feel at liberty to think and plan for his country once he could get free rather than feeling sorry for himself.  Later, reading Nelson Mandela's biography, I found the same concept.

In writing, one's biographical subject or fictional character has to make choices.  The kind of interior monologs  and actions towards others your subject chooses can reveal his or her character as few other actions can.  Showing us the inner conflict and decision to choose positive thoughts can make your writing memorable.


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