It was in the Spring, 1967. I was a high school sophomore. The afternoon was already hot, even for April in Alabama. Football practice consisted of push ups, sit ups, running until your gut hurt, then Coach came out and ran us through drills, hollered, cussed and pushed a few of us around a bit.

It was one of the most brutal afternoons of my life.

I was drenched in sweat by the time my ride home showed up. I was nauseous and swimmy-headed. I got home and headed straight for the fridge where I guzzled all the cold water left in the jug. Mom hailed me on my way down the hall, “Red Davis called, and he wants to know if you are interested in a job”. Red Davis was our neighbor and he ran his own business out of his basement. It involved packaging out-of-date comic books into plastic bags so he could re-sell them. It may sound hokey but it was a lucrative business and the profits were impressive. I had worked for him now and then and I knew he paid well.

I walked over to Mr. Davis’ house, agreed to his pay scale and working schedule and I never returned to football try outs again. In a matter of months I had enough saved to buy a 61 Chevy Impala. I opened a savings account and made regular deposits. I would not wear the purple and white of the Minor High School Fighting Tigers in the Fall.

To this day in my late 50’s I have regretted having made that choice.

Now don’t get me wrong. I loved that candy-apple-red 61 Chevy Impala. My heart still races when I catch a glimpse of one of those babies at a car show. I can still hear the sound of those glass-pack mufflers and remember the tunes coming out of that A.M. radio.

But I could have played ball. Sure, it was a mediocre team in those years, but I have regretted the choice I made.

What I learned in 67 is a lesson I’ve encountered several times since. When you choose one thing, you often eliminate another thing.

Life is all about choices.

In this new year there will be a thing or two coming your way. There will be choices to be made. I’m sorry to burst the bubble…

but you can’t do it all. You can’t have it all.

One choice doesn’t necessarily eliminate all other choices but it most certainly will eliminate something.

No rocket science here. Just a reminder. Think about your choices, their benefits, their consequences and implications.

A postscript:

I said I regretted not making the choice to play high school football. Four years ago I had spinal fusion surgery to correct a congenital abnormality in the vertebrae in my neck. It was a condition I never knew I had. My neurosurgeon told me this type of spinal condition would have made me extremely vulnerable to a life ending or paralyzing accident should I have been subjected to sudden or extreme blunt force to the upper spinal region. (Like a football injury.)

I end with this footnote: Choices come with consequences. Most of the time we see the immediate ones and evaluate a choice as being a good one or a bad one. Life has a way of showing us that our perspective is severely limited and only partially accurate. So relax. Make the best choice you can with the resources at hand.

Trust the Heavenly Father. Walk humbly. And be prepared to be blessed with the surprising goodness of God.

About Gary Cleveland

An old chunk of coal waiting to become a diamond some day. I spend the bulk of my time focused on spiritual development. I teach, preach and stand by the hurting and wounded. I believe our heavenly Father offers us daily opportunities to discover who we are and what we can yet become. I serve as a bringer of good news in and around the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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