Some choices are easy for me to make. Dinner, for example. If I’m making dinner for Mark and me, it’s easy. In the summer, it’s fish, steak, eggs or chicken and veggie or salad of some variety. In the winter, it’s the same protein with a winter veggie such as cauliflower or broccoli. (And, those of you who don’t like the cruciferous veggies, you watch out. I’m going to outlive you yet!) Mark can add a starch, if he likes. I save my calories for sugar-free dark chocolate and/or wine. We vary how we prepare the veggies and the protein, but the basics are there.
When Daughter #1 is home, life is a bit more complicated, because she does not eat animal protein. I have to think a little harder, and we have some recipes, such as quiche, and egg-based pies that satisfy my need for protein and still feel like a meal to everyone. Even with this restriction, dinner is a relatively easy choice.
Some choices are more difficult. On our vacation tour through Israel, I felt as if I had to make some tough choices almost every day. One was whether or not to go to Masada.
Masada is a feat of engineering. It’s a site of a siege and great battle between the Romans and the Jews. The battle raged. Many Romans died. But, the Romans persevered. When the Jews realized they could not win the battle, they all committed suicide. It was a tragedy, no matter how you look at it. So I have many personal reasons to want to go to Masada and look at it.
I have been to Masada, back before I had vertigo. I loved it. The walls are thick, so even on a really hot day, you can stand between the walls, and feel cool. When I say really hot, I mean 35 degrees Celsius or more, which is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Pretty darn hot. The air is dry, so you can get dehydrated quite easily. Dangerous conditions for me.
There is no shade on Masada. No trees. No bushes. No water. There is no easy place to sit down. Again, dangerous for me.
There is rock. Rock walls. Small rocks which have broken away from the walls. Rocks which separate the rooms. Rocks that repelled the Romans. Rocks everywhere you look. Rocks underfoot. Rocks of all shapes and sizes.
And that is the problem. There are rocks everywhere. And with my kind of vertigo, even with a cane, even with my medicine, going up to Masada early in the morning, with liters of water, even with the temperature only about 28 C (82 F), I didn’t think I could manage the walking around.
It was a tough choice. I’d already made the choice not to walk around Tzfat. I didn’t want to give up Masada.
And, I knew that if I pushed too hard to go to Masada I might set myself up to have a vertigo attack that could knock me out for a couple of days, which would be much worse. Or, I would sprain an ankle or a knee or a wrist or elbow. Or break yet another tooth. For me, falling over is a secondary effect with significant consequences. I often have no idea I’m falling until I’m almost on the ground.
So, I decided not to go to Masada on this trip.
I was disappointed. Not the kind of disappointed that says my heart is broken. The kind of disappointed that resigns me to a sort-of half-living life.
And, then I had a transforming idea. I remembered that I wrote a book about project portfolio management. A book that says it doesn’t matter how many projects you start. It matters how many you finish. In the same spirit, it matters how many vacations you finish. It doesn’t matter how many you start. So if I start this vacation, and finish it—all in one piece, with no vertigo episodes, with no falls—then I have succeeded. And I felt much better.
When you have to make choices in your life, think about what you need to finish, not what you need to start.
- What do you need to accomplish in your life?
- What choices do you need to achieve those accomplishments?
- What will you need to stop doing to make sure you accomplish what you really need to do?
That’s how to make choices. It’s not easy, not like dinner. But once you start making choices about your accomplishments and not what you need to start, I suspect you’ll discover that your choices are clearer.
And, I made a promise to myself. I decided that I would return to Masada on another trip to Israel. In the winter. So that I don’t have the heat to manage, in addition to the rocks. That’s called “parking” this project for now. When I explained that to Daughter #2, she agreed, and told me we should have a family trip, and that she would hold onto one side of me, Mark could take the other side, and then I could walk around Masada, and not fall over. I told her we had a deal.