Love Note: Becoming Our Choices

Dearest Loved Ones –

In this poem by Jane Hirshfield I find the underlying message, captured in a single line, to be slightly daunting…we become our choices.  It’s not so much that I regret choices I’ve made or what I’ve become as a result of those choices.  It’s more the weightiness of the concept, the sobering truth held within the old adage “There are no free lunches.”  In other words, there are no free passes…we make choices and they do indeed have ramifications in our lives.

We can use this poignant message as a reminder of the relevance of our choices, both big and small.  From this we can consider how we feel about who it is that we’ve become, as well as how it is that we got here (the cobblestone path with bricks of a lifetime of choices).  The choices we make not only define us, they create us.

One other thing to ponder, why we’re here.  Additionally significant is the effect our choices have on others.  I’m thinking about the remembered moments in my life, savored and not so savored, dating all the way back to childhood that for some reason have stuck; these moments have been impacted by others’ choices and have left an imprint on me, despite the other person’s absence of memory.

Our choices matter in all directions.  And I’m grateful that our faith tradition guides us to consider such things in the here and now.

Sending hugs to each of you,


You work with what you are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.

Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table.
There are honeys so bitter
no one would willingly choose to take them.
The clay takes them: honey of weariness, honey of vanity,
honey of cruelty, fear.

This rebus – slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life –
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.

As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty,
we become our choices.
Each yes, each no continues,
this one a ladder, that one an anvil or cup.

The ladder leans into its darkness.
The anvil leans into its silence.
The cup sits empty.

How can I enter this question the clay has asked?
~ Jane Hirshfield ~