Have you ever made an impulsive decision that has changed your life? I have made a few ropey decisions, mostly when I was much younger. Maybe we take fewer risks as we grow older, keeping within our comfort zone.
Perhaps the most questionable decision was when I packed a rucksack and, on an impulse, flew from London to Tucson Arizona to surprise an American penfriend, who I had met on a previous visit. It seemed romantic at the time. I was twenty-one had just finished training as an occupational therapist and found myself with free time. So, I took a Freddie Laker flight to Arizona and an internal flight to Tuscon, buying my tickets the same or previous day. I’m not sure I even told my parents until the day I set off from my Hampstead bedsit, feeling like a brave, free-spirited adventurer. It wasn’t until I arrived in Tucson in the early hours of the morning that I realised I only had a post box address for my friend who lived in Bisbee 95 miles away.
We all make impulsive decisions at some point in our life, maybe several times. We are acting on a gut instinct that it is the right thing to do, despite it seeming to be irrational. Angie Winkle in The Borrowed Boy does just that. Her head tells her that she must return Danny to the young woman who lost him on the Tube and she tries to reunite them, but her instincts tell her that Danny needs her. He has welts on his back, and talks of being a naughty boy; he clings to Angie when they see the woman, he was parted from waiting at the statue. The woman is smiling as she chats on her phone. Angie’s train is about to depart and she has to decide in haste. So, she acts on instinct, listening to her gut, and takes Danny with her on a journey that changes both of their lives.
The decisions that we make, shape our lives. There is a quote by Ayn Rand:
‘Everyman builds his world in his own image.
He has the power to choose,
But no power to escape the necessity of choice.’
For forty years Angie had been afraid of making wrong decisions, and so she let life pass her by, watching from the side-lines. She found that not making decisions comes with consequences too. It wasn’t until Angie realised that life was short that she decided to make the most of every minute of every day. She had let life pass her by and now she vowed not to waste another moment.
I would like to say that my spontaneous but risky decision making was a one-off but there were a few hairy moments in my younger years. Thank goodness my own daughter is much more sensible than me. The Arizona escapade had a happy ending because as unlikely as it may seem a young black guy who was waiting in the line behind me, heard me speak to the cab driver. He stepped forward and said that he knew where my friend lived. We shared a cab to Bisbee and true to his word he directed us to my friend’s house. I think he was one of many angels who have come to my rescue at different times in my life. The summer I spent in Bisbee was memorable and I would not change that experience. It led to other events in my life for which I am grateful.
Every day we make a multitude of decisions, some as simple as whether or not to eat a second biscuit, others are deceptively more critical. Sometimes we have time to weigh up the pros and cons and gather information to make an informed decision. At other times we have to act on instinct and hope for the best.
Angie’s decision to take Danny with her shapes her life. Whether it was the right decision or not, I will leave you to decide. One final quote from a meme – author unknown.
‘Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.’