This past Tuesday my family was packing up our campsite between 7 and 8 AM. Normally we wouldn’t have gotten up that early. Normally we would make breakfast, take some last minute pictures of the scenery on our last minute hike. Instead we scrambled to leave Big Sur as quickly as possible because the campsite beside ours hosted a large group of bicyclists leaving the same day.

The idea of navigating bicyclists and cars along the winding Highway 1 – a road cut into the coastal cliffside – did not appeal. People die on that road regularly. It is beautiful, which draws people, despite being absolutely terrifying.

We planned to wake up at 6. The alarm didn’t go off. It died instead. We woke up 40 minutes late, which meant we missed our window of opportunity to eat a quiet breakfast in the campground lodge. It meant many of the bicyclists were already on the road. If we waited, we would contend with the entire group the full winding way. We skipped breakfast.

This was our choice. We weighed the possibilities, and with no good options, we chose the easiest. There are few restaurants on Highway 1. There isn’t much of anything there. It feels like the edge of the world, driving along the coastal cliff, looking down the sheer rock to the ocean churning below. The restaurants that are there, are stupid expensive. We stopped at one. $18 for eggs made me more irritable. Looking around, the only people present were European tourists. The service was slow. Sitting there, without a kid’s seat or coffee, I suggested we leave. The owner chased us out, begging us to come back.

Christian actually made excuses. I just didn’t care. I didn’t want to spend $18 for eggs when I knew I could get a better plate of food for a fraction of the cost at a nicer restaurant in Santa Barbara. We decided we’d stop in Cambria.

Before we did, we stopped to see the elephant seals. I knew our son would like it, and he did. When would we get back there? I had no idea. Despite our collective family meltdown, we stopped. We enjoyed watching the pups and cows on the beach. We continued to Cambria. With the help of the internet, we found a cozy breakfast nook. It was good. It was $12 for a full plate of good food and a huge cup of bottomless coffee. The service was great. They humored our son. Afterwards, everyone was much happier.

I share this because there were many times when I thought, “We should have gotten breakfast first” or “We should have gotten coffee at least!”

Then I immediately thought, “This was the choice we made.”

Throughout life we have choices. Sometimes those choices are annoying. Sometimes there are no good options. Still, we must choose. If we do not actively choose, someone or something will choose for us. I am glad I could say to myself that day, “this is the choice we made.” Being able to do so meant I accepted the situation, even though it was less than ideal. Owning the consequences for my choice made the time easier to bear, even though everyone was uncomfortable.

I urge you today, tomorrow, and the rest of your time on this planet, to actively choose. When you do, accept your situation is a result of your past choices. Sometimes it won’t be perfect. Sometimes you’ll have to wait for breakfast, or get stuck behind a row of bicyclists on a cliffside highway. But it’s temporary, and it was, after all, your choice.

Breakfast or Bicyclists?
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