A Case of Chemo and a Gallon of Regret Please

Flowchart of Rational Planning and Decision Ma...

“Ben, every legend and all mythologies exist to teach us how to run our days.  In kind fashion.  A loving way.  But there’s no story, no matter how ancient, as important as one’s own.  So if we’re to live good lives, we have to tell ourselves our own story.  In a good way.  A way that’s decent to ourselves.”  [From The Last Storyteller, by Frank Delaney]

I read that quote just now and it hit my brain like a crowbar prying loose the fulcrum rock that generates an avalanche.

I crawled out from the onslaught of images and found myself squarely facing this one:  what if, when we made choices in life, instead of ordering the cause, we had to name and order the consequence?  How might our lives look different..or would they?

For example one of the good decisions I made in life was to not begin smoking.  I do not say this with any kind of self-righteousness, but more with wonder and awe and gratefulness that something or someone in life inspired me to make that particular decision.

And I know people who have been addicted to many different things.  The consensus, they tell me, is that cigarettes is the bad one.  The one that leaves you wanting just one more years, even decades, after having quit.  If you are able to quit at all.

Recently I was waiting to pay for gas when the guy in front of me…not yet 21 I am certain…ordered a case of Marlboros.  $ 45.60.  $ 45.60!!!???  I had no idea!  I wanted to grab the young man by the lapels and say RUN!!!  I do not know you but I promise you that this is a decision you WILL REGRET.

Instead I watched him bemoan the high cost of his fix, pull out his ATM card…and have it denied.

Then I waited while he gave her an alternate card on which the cashier was to ring up $ 35.00…while he ran out to the car to get the balance.

And again, I so wanted to insert myself into his decision-making process.  OPTIONAL!  I might’ve said.  Imagine…you could stop for lunch in a couple of hours and STILL have money in your account to buy a hamburger!

So easy, when we witness bad decisions other people are making to wonder at their motive and pity their blurred vision of the future.

So maybe that’s why this image came to me today.  Imagine how different our days might be if we made decisions by asking for the consequences…not the catalyst.

“I’d like a case of Camels Cancer please, non-filtered high-dose chemo.”

“I’ve got scoop a story that will most certainly damage your opinion of the person I’m about to talk about.”

“I’m okay to drive willing to take the risk that I might kill or maim myself or some completely innocent fellow traveller.”

Supersize it, make my clothes stop fitting please.

Strange to think about, isn’t it?

And now this post has produced so much anxiety IN ME, I can’t IMAGINE anyone else liking it.  So how might this little exercise be a little less problematic?

I know.  We could extend the game to include decisions that lead to GOOD consequences.

No thanks, I don’t smoke.  Life, please.  Abundantly.”


  1. Good lesson about choices, Marie. I made the wrong one regarding cigarettes back in my teenage years – smoked cigarettes and loved it right up until September of 2000, when my Aunt Linda developed a “slight cough”. Two months later – she died of lung cancer – directly attributable to 40 years of heavy smoking. Shortly after that (I took a couple months to psyche myself up) I put down my smokes and my Bic lighters and never came close to lighting up again. It took me over 25 years…but I finally made the wise choice you did back in the day.


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