Choose Your Own Adventure
When I was in primary school these new books appeared called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’, and we loved ’em. They were a series of stories set in all sorts of exotic locations, like outer space, ye olde medieval days and the Wild West. After reading a short section, you were then given the choice to follow one of multiple paths. If you wanted to chase the Indians through the canyon, you’d turn to page 14. Alternatively, you could choose to return to Fort Genocide for reinforcements by turning to page 15. Take one path and you’d end up a hero; take another and you could find yourself tied to a cactus under the merciless sun. I was thinking about these books today while I was out for my walk.
If you have wasted your time reading my ‘About’ page on this blog, you may have noticed it’s not particularly upbeat. I have, however, managed to keep my blogs light-hearted thus far. There’s nothing like breaking the routine and travelling overseas to take your mind off the big picture. There’s also nothing like being stuck in an apartment for five weeks to put your mind right back on it.
When I was a kid I never really considered that ‘real life’ might actually be a CYOA story. Most of us don’t make any particularly life-altering decisions when we are in primary school. However fast-forward a few years and our choices start to carry a little more weight. As our lives become inevitably more complex, the consequences of our choices become more serious, for ourselves and others.
Since my midlife crisis began, I have often found myself wondering ‘How the hell did I end up here?’ I know I’m not alone in pondering this question. If my memory was good enough I could look back down the ‘family tree’ of my individual decisions and see how I got from primary school reading CYOA books to being stuck in Auckland while Corona romps the earth. However, even if I could see my decision flow-chart laid out before me I’ll guarantee it wouldn’t make the whole journey instantly comprehensible. It would be more likely to leave me shaking my head and wondering what the fuck I was thinking at the time.
I understand that ruminating on the past is unhelpful, and you have to accept your current situation and try to move on. You can’t just stop at the end of page 23, wondering if you made the right choice by riding your BMX to the haunted house. You can’t go back and change the decisions that got you to where you are. I know this, but when it feels like life is on hold the past can creep surruptitiously into the forefront of your mind. I look forward to when my Corona detention ends, and I can pack up my gear, hand in the keys to the flat and continue my odyssey. The choices will be there at the bottom of the page. I’ll choose one and see where the story goes from here.
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6 thoughts on “Choose Your Own Adventure”
Good on you Jim- i love reading your posts. I think they’re funny and thought provoking. I love your sense of humour and its pretty hard to find things that make me laugh. Actually – even though it sounds insensitive and harsh – this is a brilliant way to start your adventure. You’ve had all this time to think about stuff and sort through all the rubbish that bogs us down and wont be long before you can literally leave this all behind and enjoy your adventure unencumbered. Imagine the feeling when you can take off ! thanks for writing these – make great reading I think!
Hi Ros, thankyou for your kind words and I’m glad you are enjoying the posts! Yes I hope you’re right – I have a bad habit of dragging the past around with me. If I can leave a little of it in the odd hotel room, campsite and airport terminal then this trip will definitely have been worthwhile. Hope all is well with you
When I was about ten I wrote my own choose your own adventure. It was called ‘A Cruise of a Lifetime’ and there were a number of unpleasant endings!
Haha that’s great! Were the nasty endings Cluedo-ish? Professor Plum, with the Bunsen burner, in the Purser’s Office?
Walking the plank and poisoned soup seem to ring a bell! I think there might have been some gangsters involved….or were they smugglers?
Either way there were definitely violent and murderous thoughts in your ten year old brain. Perhaps a cause for concern?