How Do We Make Choices Today?

Eleventh in a series.

I’m letting Picture a Conversation cards inspire this series of essays. Sedona’s Mescal Trail, where this photo was taken, is one of our favorite hikes. It’s also a popular one for bike riders. The Difficult path is about two feet wide. Take the Extreme path and you’re 12″ from the cliff’s edge. Martin and I choose Difficult every time, leaving Extreme to the young, the adrenaline junkies and the really confident cyclists.


Freedom of choice is baked into our national DNA starting with Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” Covid-19, in addition to claiming our sense of security, freedom of movement and most tragically more than 80,000 lives, is also forcing us to choose between difficult and extreme. 

Do we go to the grocery store or continue curbside pick-up? Do we begin to visit with others or continue to meet up with a friend in one of our driveways, talking over an imaginary fence that keeps us six feet apart. High school graduates must choose between matriculating in September (if their future alma mater chooses to re-open) or take a gap year to do who knows what. Doctors face life and death choices more times a day than I could ever imagine. Every choice is difficult; every choice is extreme.

Covid-19 has done more than limit and reshape our choices. It has taken from us a crucial component of decision making  —  dependable information upon which we can make a choice.  New information arrives each day. Given the recent understanding that many Covid-19 patients present with silent hypoxia, some doctors are choosing less invasive treatments over intubation for patients not struggling for breath even though their oxygen levels are dangerously low.  What information do they need to choose well?  Given my age, I’m not rushing out of my proscribed perimeter just yet.

When we make a choice, we have a reasonable sense of where it said choice will lead us. The toughest choices are the ones where either outcome will bring pain — stay in the abusive relationship or go; follow parental expectations or blaze your own path; restrict businesses and continue to crush the economy or open up so people can work, knowing that Covid cases will rise. 

Difficult or extreme, there are no easy choices today. Especially when liberating ourselves might indeed lead to death.


And now for a polite ask. Since Martin and I launched Picture a Conversation, hundreds of  wonderful conversations continue to unfold within families, schools, ESL classes, and therapists offices. 

The upside of the recent Corona isolation are renewed opportunities to connect with friends and loved ones.  If you have not yet enjoyed Picture a Conversation, please consider ordering a set. If your Zooms/Facetimes/Google Meets often seem to revert to pandemic talk, these prompts can help smoothly change the topic. Have you rediscovered letter writing?      The cards will give you some great subjects for sharing your life experiences.                                                                    

Ordering Picture a Conversation is an easy choice.   Not difficult. Not extreme. Thanking you in advance.

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8 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Pam says:

    Excellent post Debra!

  2. Brenda strausz says:

    Thank you Debra….you hit the nail on the head. Beautifully written. We are certainly in troubling times these days . I am lucky enough to feel that my home and husband are my haven. I wish that for all my friends, family and your readers. I am trying to go through this with courage, kindness, love and safety. And I pray for all who are suffering now.

    • And this is the essence of Brenda that I love so much: living within challenging times with
      “courage, kindness, love and safety all the while praying for those who are suffering.”

  3. Have the cards already…love the creativity!

  4. Ginger B Wiechers says:

    Insightful and truthful..a true reflection of who you are.
    Picture A Conversation cards continues to inspire communication and sharing feelings and experiences. I encourage everyone to get a box of cards and enjoy them with their family and friends. They make a great gift too.

  5. I have been on this trail many times while living in Sedona for 15 years. And I pause and ponder when each time I come to this sign. It has helped me realize what my decision making and risk taking mentality is. In one words: Variety and Adventure. Sometimes I select the Difficult/lower-risk path, and other times I go right onto the Extreme path, which sounds to me like it would be the more challenging one. To be honest, they both seem about the same. But that perception might be shaped by several hundreds of hikes throughout the Sedona/Verde Valley area that have increased my competence (with pole, sure footedness and eyes to the ground), confidence (I’m still alive and hiking), and courage (hey, let’s try something new).

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