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Fate and self-determination

Elizabeth Chicoine

A question arose during a tabletop game on a recent visit to friends. In a nutshell, an acrylic box is set on the table and is filled with conversation starters. Not one to be addicted to games or such cluttering on a table, I tried to dismiss it.My problem is, this question from the little clear box stuck in my mind. “Do you believe in fate or self-determination?”As our election season approaches its finality, I believe that this philosophical question gathers even more punch. Personally, I believe in one’s gut feelings. I strive to be a balanced person. Aren’t you?Faith guides most of us. But where do fate, self-determination and beliefs intertwine?Risky question for me to pose. Don’t worry. Even if you believe in something else, you can still admit to reading me. The game didn’t come from some extreme-right publication. I am a shopper at heart. It came from a known store, Crate and Barrel. An even more ripe question: Do you admit to reading the Vail Daily? Love it or detest it on some days, admit to reading it or tossing it. But we all need our local paper in some abstract, personal way. It has been interesting to read recent political commentaries, including the conference center in Vail, Referendums C and D, and home rule. I feel what is missing in our electoral debate is a local school board election. How sad that this is not an elected seat this year.Apparently in the political arena of governing our public schools, parents are sticking with fate as the determiner. Is it that so much is happening in our valley’s business this fall election season, it is simply easy to become compliant that some other determining force will take over our local schools? Just making a living in this valley can be hard enough that parents are too worn out to question our public schools. We end up blindly trusting and then in some knee-jerk moments, leaving.Cultural flight is the unofficial buzzword that I’ve heard to explain away public schools phobia. I disagree. Our public schools are not losing families due to cultural flight. We are losing families due to lack of self-determination. Parents need to dig down deep to change what seems wrong. It isn’t just up to fate in how our schools will or will not prosper. We all are busy. It is much easier to leave our children’s education up to fate. But just imagine, what could happen if we each went into the schools to assist, to question, to offer, to become a part of the school. We are witnessing fate become an all-to-easy answer in our local political scene. But can self-determination change this? You bet!It can give us relevance. People need to make their actions and time meaningful. I admire anyone who does sit on a local board, be it town, school, neighborhood, whatever. They are the give-back people of our communities. Thankfully, some people have even stepped forward in the local school scene to go through the appointment process for our school board. Appreciate them, even if you disagree with their ideas. At least they are doing instead of waiting for fate.I was reminded recently when driving home from the words-cannot-describe bliss of a recent getaway to Woodland Park that I am still alive because of a mix of fate and self-determination. I remember this autumn when a mom was declared dead, lost while hiking Mount of the Holy Cross. I looked at the backside of Pikes Peak as I drove on Highway 24, headed home. A story that I’ve never told anyone hit me. The “why you,” “how you” questions surfaced.My Pikes Peak-past story had a fortunate outcome. Back in my 20-something years, I was lost above timberline. Stupidly, I hiked Pikes Peak alone and was utterly lost when I ventured above timberline. Luckily, soldiers from Fort Carson found me, fed me, and aided me down Pikes Peak on The Cog Railway. I’ve never even told my siblings this tale of “the lost child,” but today I am compelled to declare my life’s good fortune. For some reason, I didn’t die up on that peak. And at that naive time of life, I didn’t even think that my solo adventure was unwise. Being solo can present itself as a brave new adventure. It can often be the right path. But it can also be a trail to destruction. Having the right leadership, people to rescue you, and even people to ridicule you, can often be a blessing. Many moms want to know how I ended up with this gig, writing from a mom’s perspective of life in a mountain town. My voice started as “Mom Matters” at The Vail Trail. The name still sticks there, which I am proud of.Because I have this mixture of self-determination, fate and faith all nipping at my heels, I am compelled to keeping life relevant. And in the press. Moms, we are quirky. And as I once did on Pikes Peak, we can too often go it alone. Elizabeth H. Chicoine of Eagle writes a weekly column for the Daily. She can be reached at echicoine@centurytel.netVail, Colorado


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