So Many Daily Decisions…So Many Alternative Outcomes

Dear Reader:

“In mythology, the three Fates were goddesses who handed out destiny at birth, weaving a future that each mortal would be forced to live out inexorably—the concept of fate serving for many as a necessary explanation for the random cruelties, vicissitudes, and lucky breaks that determine so much of how life plays out. ( *That individuals might just blunder into these events for no reason at all was, for the ancient Greeks, just too bleak a thought.”– Resource: The Atlantic: “On 9/11, Luck Mean Everything”– Author Garrett M. Graff)

With so much going on before I left for Mt. Pleasant last week…I somehow managed to forget 9/11. When I got to Mandy’s and later saw all the stories on television…I was saddened I had forgotten. (Especially since Jackson had sent me this wonderful story from The Atlantic.)

So now I am re-tracking to share this story and relate it to our everyday lives and daily choices today.

In years of research and oral recorded personal histories/interviews  from survivors of 9/11 author Garrett Graff reached a startling conclusion:

Since 9/11… society seems more intent on trying to provide more and more control devices to be used in all kind of emergency situations…as if these new innovations will somehow keep the randomness of terrorism and death far away.


“Our  wired society today seems bent on proving a level of control over our daily circumstances that none of us actually possesses. We try so hard to downplay and outright ignore the role chance clearly plays in life, moving through it oblivious to the randomness of fate, controlling everything we can in the hopes that it will help with those things we can’t control.

At the same time, these regimens seem meant to rob us of the spontaneity that allows pleasure to seep in at unexpected moments—unnecessarily limiting what for all of us turns out to be a finite time in the world. As Sandy Dahl, the widow of the Flight 93 pilot, Jason Dahl, once said, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short, and there is no time for hate.”

Is it worth it to live a life with so many controls over us…that we sacrifice the spontaneity of the unexpected joys and happy moments that randomly slip into our lives to brighten it and bring us sheer inexplicable pleasure?

Here is just one sample anecdote of the hundreds of stories Graff has collected over the years on the randomness of human daily decisions and their outcomes…especially dealing with 9/11.

“Joseph Lott, a sales representative for Compaq computers, survived one of the deadliest days in modern American history because he had a penchant for “art ties,” neckties featuring famous masterpieces. “It began many years earlier, in the ’90s,” he said in an oral history with StoryCorps.

“I love Impressionist paintings, and I use them as a way to make points with my kids. I’d put on an art tie, and then I would ask my kids—I have three daughters—I would say, ‘Artist identification?’ And they would have to tell me whether it was a van Gogh or a Monet, and we would have a little conversation about the artist.”

On the morning of September 11, 2001, he had put on a green shirt before meeting colleagues at the Marriott hotel sandwiched between the Twin Towers, in advance of speaking at a conference that day at the restaurant Windows on the World. Over breakfast, his co-worker Elaine Greenberg, who had been on vacation the week before in Massachusetts, presented him with a tie she’d spotted on her trip that featured a Monet.

“It was red and blue, primarily. I was very touched that she had done this,” Lott explained. “I said, ‘This is such a nice gesture. I think I am going to put this on and wear it as I speak.’ She said, ‘Well, not with that shirt. You’re not going to put on a red-and-blue tie with a green shirt.’”

So when breakfast was done, his colleagues headed up to Windows on the World, located on the 104th floor of the North Tower, and Lott went back to his hotel room to change shirts. He ironed a white one, put it on, and then headed back down toward the hotel lobby. “As I was waiting to go from the seventh floor back down to the lobby and over to the bank of elevators that would take me to the top, I felt a sudden movement in the building,” he recalled.

Lott would escape the World Trade Center complex that day. Elaine Myra Greenberg, 56, a New York financial consultant, a season-ticket holder to the Metropolitan Opera, the “cool aunt” to her nephews and nieces, would not.


My first response to stories like these is as a reminder to live each day to the fullest…we can’t control the “fates” or “destiny” but we can have no regrets over how we spent our lives…We have to make the decision whether to spend our short-lived days worrying about what we can’t control or smiling at all God’s unexpected pleasures bestowed on us within the intervals.

This is the way we feel about Jake’s immediate health concerns…Jake was born with a slew of allergies that caused lots of problems as an infant and toddler…milk, eggs, and peanuts…to name a few. His immune system stays somewhat compromised and he spends more times with allergy break-outs than not… it seems sometimes.

Murphy’s Law…John left and Jake’s latest enemy…impetigo can roaring back…to the point that anything touching his back or stomach hurt…the creams to help dry it up hurt terribly when applied and he was covered from head to toe in these sores.

As if that wasn’t enough…he had recently been experiencing stomach cramps shortly after eating meals…and this ballooned over the weekend to the point that by Saturday morning he was throwing up everywhere. Thank goodness his regular doctor was on weekend call and said he suspected a blockage… an x-ray was ordered for Monday.

Obviously we were all apprehensive until the report came back that the blockage was, thank goodness, impacted fecal matter that wasn’t allowing passage of anything but liquid diarrhea…hopefully some doses of miralax will take care of that problem…and his impetigo sores are drying up fast. Whew! That was one miserable child over the weekend…but we are beyond happy at the outcomes.

It would have been easy to get caught up in all the ‘what-if’s’ but that is never productive on any level and prayers are a much better solution. Prayers won out! 🙂

In the meantime…Jake is beyond excited about his birthday this weekend and as far as he is concerned…hot wheels, dinosaurs, and balls of every sport fill his dreams nightly and daily…that is the way it should be. We can all learn more about facing life’s problems through our children.

And so until tomorrow…“Value each day of your life as if it were your last.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Like most children, in between bouts of stomach problems/ pain, allergy break-outs…Jake is a typical little boy who just wants to play. John came home one day early from his conference to take Jake for his x-ray yesterday. Everyone was so happy to have Daddy back home…including Tigger.

Wonderful news from Sis Kinney….

So, it’s all GOOD NEWS insofar as the cancer is concerned.  Dr. Dagher was able to surgically remove it and now we just undergo radiation for five weeks, followed by oral estrogen-blocking medication for a number of years – I think it’s five.  Everything is totally manageable and we’re very, very relieved.
I thank you for your continued and fervent prayers on my behalf and know that you’ll continue with them as we go into this next phase.

*And thank you dear blog readers/prayer participants…what a difference you are making in Sis’s life and so many others.

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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