When Prince William of Wales dated Kate Middleton of Bucklebury, they couldn’t make a move without being photographed. When they were finally engaged, the world went crazy because this meant that Kate Middleton, a commoner from a non-royal family, would one day be called the Queen of England.
I wake up at 4 am on a Friday. It’s late April, the day of the wedding. I may or may not have slept on the couch out of sheer excitement. When I turn on the TV and blink my blurry eyes a few times, the newscaster is announcing that after Prince William and Kate marry, they will become the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We are fascinated with this wedding, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that this girl walks into a church as Kate and comes out an hour later as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.
She’s still the same girl, but with one decision, everything changes. How people relate to her changes. How her life plays out changes. With one walk down the aisle, her future and ultimately, the future of an entire country, is different than it would have been had she never walked down the aisle in the first place. With that one choice, the trajectory of her life goes in a completely different direction than it would have had she not made the choice at all.
I’m riding in a pedicab on a waterlogged road made of mud and rocks. One of the staff members from Compassion and I are crammed uncomfortably close together. I’m holding my backpack too tightly, eyes blurring, heart racing. My feet are still sweaty from the rubber boots I just took off after wading through the water sidewalks in the small, flooded community of shacks in Manila. The boy who held my shoes, his eyes still haunt me.
The woman serving as our guide seems to know every name of every child. She must spend a lot of time volunteering down here. I think her name is Ann. Her smile is infectious. Her joy, full. As we pass a row of shacks just like the ones we just left, she points to one on the left. “And there is my house!” She says, proud. Smiling. And then I know. She knows these children so well because they are her neighbors.
Her choices look different from Kate Middleton’s. But they are still her choices. She can choose to live impoverished or she can choose to live in joy. We may be born into wealth or born into poverty, but we still have choices. Our lives are not scripts written in invisible ink. We are not destined to live trying to decode a secret to our correct life. We have a hand in how this whole thing plays out. You cannot always control your circumstance, but you and you alone make your choices. And every change in the world beings with a choice.
This is day 13 in a series. Read 31 Days to Change the World from the beginning. Go here to see all of the other 31 Day series happening around the internets. Want to have Chatting at the Sky delivered into your email inbox? Subscribe here for free.