No one will ever know

I may choose to reach for the life I want, or I may pass each day in melancholy deference to the comfort or judgement of other people, leaving my dreams untried. A hundred years from now, no one will care – or even know – about my decision.

There will be no golden statue erected in the park with my face and the inscription, “he didn’t cause a fuss.”

No crowds of people gathering in banquet halls to raise a glass and say, “thank goodness he didn’t try anything weird.”

No hall of heroes with my portrait and a little card below that reads, “Distinguished performance, early 21st century: Conscientiously 100 percent second-guessed himself.”

If you stood fast at the wheel of your little community ship, steering straight along the plotted route as a generous guide to others, pretending not to notice the uncharted islands passing on the right or left with their intriguing flashes of green and gold, each one sending a surge of curious desire up your spine which you dutifully fought back down, and at the end of your shift you didn’t twitch the wheel even once, making an easy handoff to the next captain stepping in beside you… Well, the most anyone will assume is that the sea was calm, and there were no islands at all, and after you made a satisfactory run you were buried at sea with no regrets.

But mostly they will assume the ship steered itself.