Editor’s Letter: In Praise of Next Chapters

I try to make conscious choices about how I live. This involves small-scale daily decisions: broccoli instead of Big Macs, walking meetings instead of sit-down ones, comfy clothes instead of style (though some suggest my Dumpster-fresh fashion sensibility is less a conscious choice than a cry for help.)

But with the small stuff, living consciously is easy; it’s quite another thing when the questions are bigger and the stakes higher. Am I happy? Is this the way I want to spend my time? Should I risk it all for a chance at something better?

I number among my heroes those who made deliberate choices on the big questions. Neil Armstrong became one of the most recognizable people on our planet by walking on the moon—then doubled down on his heroism by living the rest of his days quietly and privately. Muhammad Ali fought his way to the top, then chose religious principle over social conformity. To an anti-clotheshorse like me, Albert Einstein is less admirable for his theory of relativity than the decision to spend his last 20 years shuffling around his Princeton study in a big gray sweatshirt.

This month we introduce “Next Chapter,” an occasional column that celebrates gutsy people in Orange County who recently made a decision to direct, or redirect, their lives. Maybe they’ve decided to start a family or leave a marriage. Or maybe, like the Laguna Beach nursery owners featured this month, they’ve decided to dissolve a long-standing business and embark on a late-life journey that’s far less certain, but potentially more rewarding. “Next Chapter” is written by our copy chief, Alan Gibbons, and you can find her first inspirational installment on our website or in the January issue.

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