Quiet Desperation

Choices resonate like the sound of a gong


I’ll take Door Number 2.

We’re all vulnerable to the choices we make.

The college we go to, the city we move to, the job we take, the man or woman we date or marry, and whether to have children or not, all can have everlasting consequences.

I bought my house when it was under construction, and I was too excited about it to notice that the master bedroom faces the morning sun, and the living room faces the setting sun. Both have high non-rectangular windows that are almost impossible to find treatments for, and they let in enough heat in July to bake a casserole without an oven.

I took a full-time job at a school without high admission standards, knowing I am an admission standards snob. Why? I was young, and simply wanted a full time job.

I once dated the most beautiful woman in town, who wrote the book on dramatics, and washed her hair in a stranger’s sprinkler after a disappointing haircut.

Why did I date her? You can probably guess.

I have thought about the choices Shanann Watts and Kelsey Berreth made, and the tragic outcomes, far more consequential than bedroom casseroles in July.

I have watched lesser outcomes but soul-crushing ones in marriages that began on sunny afternoons with bridesmaids and promises that turned into the War of the Roses.

Some of the choices people make are great for narratives, in films and novels, but not that great to come home to, if they happen to us.

On the other hand, I can look back now at some decisions I made that turned out very favorably, even though I may not have done enough research in the first place.

My first choice was journalism at a university that didn’t have an undergraduate journalism department.


My second choice was fine art. It turned out to be where I belonged in the first place.

I chose a dachshund puppy when I was 5. I am now on my fourth (and final) dachshund, and inextricably devoted to the breed.

We make decisions all the time: CNN or Fox (or neither). Republican or Democrat (or neither). God or no God.

There is nothing better than freedom, and that includes the freedom of choice.

I can get into my car and drive in any direction I want to, for as long as I want to, and listen to whatever I want to.

I read about a man named Joaquin Guzman who was convicted of numerous crimes, and was sentenced to spend the remainder of his life in a seven-foot by twelve-foot cell with a single window three feet high by four inches wide.

He’ll be incarcerated right down the road, in Florence, 40 miles south of Colorado Springs.

A former warden, Robert Hood, said, “This place is not designed for humanity. It is not designed for rehabilitation. Period. End of story.”

I have no sympathy for Guzman, but I have thought about what would happen to someone who was confined and isolated as he will be, and if that wouldn’t be a virtual death.

This morning at 5:30 a.m., Harry and I went to the grocery store. I bought his favorite food. We came home. I fed him. I drank black coffee, read the daily paper, and listened to KVOD.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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