as ephemeral as a Venus transit, so is life, ... what choices do we have in this life? Does it matter?

as ephemeral as a Venus transit, so is life, … what choices do we have in this life? Does it matter?

I celebrated my birthday, a little more than a week ago. Nearing half a century, one dares to look into the past to find out more about a possible but uncertain future …

Looking back at my life so far, I see many choices.
Few with a profound  influence, too many superficial, and some perhaps unavoidable.


When I look back at school, I see a background setting, a scene. I didn’t really choose Latin or Maths, but a waterfall of events catapulted me first in one, than in the other. It had no influence on my career as a computer network administrator.
When I lost my time in college, even that ‘waste of time’ had no effect on my life. It was a depressing time, but once it was beyond, it was easily forgotten. It feels like I had no choice. It feels like this is part of the game of circumstances.

Over all those years, only the memory, the remembrance of people remains. I still greet about 5 people from grammar school, regularly from the window of the car. Like me, they stayed where they were born. The others, I have no idea where they went or what happened to them.

In high school I made many friends. I still meet two of them regularly.

College? Nope …

Did I have a choice? Not in meeting people. They came. Like passengers in a bus. Brought together by time.
Did I have a choice of direction and interest? Certainly, but it did not matter.


Working for several bosses, didn’t make a difference. One of them was nasty, and paranoid, and sent the federal police after me. That was quite an experience. Some might say a karmic event. I have my doubts about karma, judgement days, or laws of attraction. Anyway, that’s how I met happy lawyers and understanding judges. I started my own business, but whether I would have sold sewing machines or whether I would have been a secretary or a doctor, or whatever I do now, it wouldn’t have made a big difference.

Any colleagues remaining? Nope! Just acquaintances – mostly on linkedin.

Did I have a choice? Not in meeting the people, the superficial colleagues, the angry bosses. They came by themselves.
Did I have a choice of direction and interest? Certainly, but it did not matter.


I didn’t consciously choose my parents or my siblings. Not with my present mind. I encountered the relationships that led me to great sadness and great joy. And I did not choose my beautiful children, the greatest teachers in my life.
Family, relationships, children are to me of the most important encounters on earth.
Did I have a choice? I really do not have that impression.


Doing is different from working. I have the impression that I made important choices when travelling around the world in my twenties. That I made the important choice of becoming a teacher, next to system administration, in my thirties. That I made an important choice of writing in my forties.

All 3 activities, give/gave me the possibility to encounter all these very interesting human beings. And here there really is a law of attraction; you attract like minded people. It is not the affirmations or faith that will attract you to whatever, you just attract what you are!

Did I choose to travel, to teach and to write: yes.
Did I really have a choice? Probably, although there must have been a seed giving direction to these choices. What kind of seed? I have no idea.


I have had many turns of perspective in my life so far. But I notice that I have always been a seeker, from a very early age. One could call me a spiritual person. Although this is just a tag with no contents.
I certainly didn’t have a choice here either. I have always been attracted by awe, and inspiration, even by silence.


We do not really choose many things in life. Death, birth, health, one has to undergo.
Friendship and relationships are partly coincidence, partly a positive choice against fear.
Study, Work, and where you do it, and what you do there seems to be of lesser importance.

So regardless of  choices or their absence, I really like encounters. Human encounters. Human beings always inspire me.  I like silence, awe and inspiration. Nature has that profound effect. And I like to search for the things behind and inside the universe: stars, science and spirit.

Seems that the only choice that really makes a difference is a choice against fear.


42 thoughts on “choices

  1. Welcome! Thank you for subscribing to follow my blog. I hope you are encouraged, inspired and enjoy the photos I take of life’s events as seen through the lens of my camera.

    • I think here on earth, forming relationships, we unconsciously mirror our parents, which is not always a good thing. Whether we select our parents in a state before conception, I strongly doubt, but I really don’t know. And I think we cannot know this with our limited brain.

  2. Life is a succesion of choices. You are what you are today because of past choices and what you will be in the future depends on your choices from now.
    May you have wisdom, my friend 🙂

    • Of course, but the choices that make us who we really are, have nothing to do with choosing this or that career, this or that car, this or that holiday.
      The choices that make us who we are, and that is my subtle point in this post are the choices between fear and compassion/love when encountering other human beings, other animals, grateful/graceful encounters with vegetation and the surface of the earth.

  3. These resonated with me personally –
    “Family, relationships, children are to me of the most important encounters on earth.”
    “Doing is different from working. … there must have been a seed giving direction to these choices. What kind of seed? I have no idea”
    I find this one more interesting than most – “One could call me a spiritual person. Although this is just a tag with no contents.” No contents – open at the top.
    And me too – “I really like … Human encounters” “I like silence, awe and inspiration. Nature has that profound effect.”

    I’ve been pondering this – if we are being who we “truly” are – does it matter whether it was a choice or not ?, whether we think we had a choice or not ? If we are truly BEING, then we are being what we are – regardless.

    BTW – I’ve almost a decade of living on you . . . in a year, it will be the big 6-0 !! Birthdays can be a perfect time for life reviews – why wait until we pass over ?

    • Wow, another front door, we call this here, when the number indicating the decade shifts. But still a long time. … Yes birthdays have this effect ….
      If I rephrase your pondering … “Can I be who I truly am without ever having made a choice to be like that?” But we are always who we truly are, aren’t we? We only have to discover that person from inside, and outside. That discovery process is a choice. Not discovering is ignorance. The ignorance will not unlock our true potential but we will still be who we truly are. We will not see our own vices when ignorant, and not being able to work on them, but we will still be who we truly are.

  4. Beautifully put and happy belated birthday! I think you did a great job pointing out how our perception of choice is, as so many things, subjective. While I like to feel I have more opportunities to choose some of the things you believe to be outside of choice – I 100% see what you’re saying, and its clear you’ve made the choice to not be consumed by, to your point, fear (..of making the right or wrong choice). Great post Bert!

    • thx for the birthday wishes.
      The opportunity of choice is always there, but more in the ‘No’ than in the ‘Yes’. The question to me is ‘does it matter?’. Does it matter to ride a Mercedes or a Nissan, or a bike? Does it change who you are? Or does the change in perception of who you really are changes your choice in transport? I think it is the latter. There is of course an amplifying effect, when you drive your mercedes, you’ll have that image of yourself. So it goes both ways. But if you are getting rid of those persona, it matters less.
      And the people we meet, there we have a choice: fear (repulsion) or no fear (attraction). So how we feel about the world and people has an effect on our choices. And sometimes, choosing for love has a profound effect, since it makes us see the world in a different way. But I have always seen the world in a not fearing way. So for me, it didn’t matter. I’ve been hurt when seeing the world in a not fearing way, and the effect was building a wall, but I’ve always reduced the wall back to rubble. But we don’t choose our family of parents and children (at least not with our present mind – perhaps the children choose, i don’t say no to this theory, but ‘if’, they didn’t choose with their present mind)
      And the people we meet, cross our path. And those who are mutually attracted, like on this blog, they communicate with us. It is a choice and no choice at the same time. Nobody knows when paths will intersect, and nobody knows whether our level of attraction will be connective when this intersection takes place. So this looks very random from my down to earth point of view. If it is not random, what is my choice in it?

      • Very well put! Your perspective is very measured and balanced, which is a unique trait. Most react in fear, and most of those who don’t “pendulum swing” to almost ‘over-empower’ themselves and their ability to chose (which is a risk in itself – and relates well to what you said about having been hurt in the past by seeing the world in a ‘non-fearful’, or loving, way).

        I am a ‘fireball’ at heart who has learned to how to manage my emotions through the years so I am not controlled by them – I’ve pendulum swung to the other end of the spectrum only to find that same momentum is likely to carry you back. Which is why I have a particular appreciation for your view – and having discussed it further with you hear – a word that bridges our two perspectives regarding “choice” might be “acceptance”. We have choices even when we feel choiceless – but acceptance helps us move past the trivial choices which have no real impact on your being so we can get past those distractions and focus on the ones that do have an impact!

        Great thoughts my friend!

        • Fire in the heart, a beautiful energy, not so easy to tune … but a great gift!
          Yes acceptance – a better word, sometimes hard too! My acceptance is shy. The other side of fear knows rejection. When shy, one has the time to acknowledge the climate and respond warm heartedly, also under worse conditions.

  5. About your words under ‘Spirit’. I feel the same way, i think. I have had many turns in direction and perspective. All them brought on by this overriding need to continue seeking and asking questions, looking closer at ‘difficulties’ and contradictions.

    I don’t see myself as having a choice in this area of my life, not just because of this compulsion to keep looking, but because all the answers the universe placed in front of me BEGGED new questions.

    • Yes, my whole life, my view of Spirit has shifted regularly. This shift in perception is the effect of a never ending learning process. If the learning stops, the perception becomes rigid.
      I have the choice to evolve intellectually and spiritually. But it appears that we don’t select our new perceptions. They come and overwhelm us with the often unexpected answers we get through the learning process called life.

  6. “A choice against fear,” yes, it does seem that way. Isn’t that what we share with the non-human animals as well?
    Enjoyed the synopsis of your life– sounds pretty good.
    Happy belated birthday and many blessings!

    • Seems like the choice against fear, or the right action of free will coincide well. A lot of mammals and birds seem to share this freedom of choice. And so we encounter the curious and the shy animals, the talkative and the silent, …
      … and thx for the wishes.

  7. “Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

    ― Omar Khayyám, رباعيات خيام

    Youth is a state of mind, not an age on a calendar in my book. Happy birthday Bert!.

    And from the same movie where I first heard that quote, “Unfaithful”:

    Connie Sumner: I think this was a mistake.
    Paul: There is no such thing as a mistake. There are things you do, and things you don’t do.

    • There has been a desire to drink just one beer, or one glass of port, these past 6 weeks, but I haven’t touched a glass. I want this body to be back to 110% before I do so. There is indeed only one moment, and that moment is the eternal now.
      Thanks for the quotes and the wishes.

      • I was the young woman on the dance floor while at university of whom the question would be asked, “How many has she had?” …and I don’t drink :). Early in life for whatever reason I was gifted with the opportunity to observe that the real potential effects of the vine were not actually ever in the wine. Natural highs are only ever a thought away… and listening to the body IS the way to access the pharmacy always waiting on the other side of each thought when we clean house. Kudos to you for listening to your body and heeding what it is asking for at this time. Blissful drunken abandon is still available and the body never gets the hangover!

        Now, enjoying the actual taste for it’s experience, that is another matter. My drugs of choice in the world have always been a book, a dark theater where I could leave this reality for awhile and sleep. I never have developed a taste for enjoying those chemical alterations which come in a bottle… however, the crinkling of a foil rapper around a dark chocolate something, oh the music to the ear!.

        • The dancing generates the flow. The altered state. The altered state can be asked for by taking the substance, but often it is the expectation making the effect stronger. Then abuse lurks around the corner. Chocolate is my weakness. Does it also have an effect on the immune system? 🙂

  8. A very thoughtful post – and a concise one given the fact you reflect on your entire life. I couldn’t tackle the same topic without feeling the need to write an epic wall of text, ha ha.
    I tend to think about choices in the following way: I feel I made several choices deliberately that really felt like choices … requiring research, pondering about the pros and cons of all those options, and finally taking a decision – backed by analysis, but grounded in gut feeling maybe.
    Nevertheless, despite having picked those particular choices I feel I might have ended up in the same or a very similar environment, position, job etc. if I had taken the other options. As in this movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow – “Sliding Doors”… which is a story about two alternative realities, two different narratives of a human being’s life, the bifurcation being triggered by a difference in a small detail. Yet finally the two different instances of the protagonist meet again at the same place at the same time.

    • Well, my initial notes, written for myself, on what to do the next decade or so, was a lot shorter. The choices in encountering nature, humanity, universe and spirit seem to have been made a long time ago already. Family is there and evolving. Old friendships end, new friendships start.
      Making a living is hard these days, but I think it has always been hard no matter where I look within the previous 25 years … and making a list of past and present didn’t change this stalemate. I think that making a living is like cleaning or doing dishes. I enjoy doing these little chores, and often enjoy the big ones on the job. But there is often a lot missing in these jobs. There is always an atmosphere of envy and greed and unnecessary deadlines in the workplace. As if they envy my freedom of thought. And sometimes that makes me unhappy.

  9. Interesting reading your reflections on life. Happy belated birthday by the way. I think you said it was coming but you never let anyone know when it was. I hope it was a great day ♥

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