We make countless choices and decisions in our everyday life. Some are conscious, and some are unconscious. Those many options direct the future of our lives. On other circumstances and occasions, our choices impact other people.

Sources suggest that the average person makes an eye-popping 35,000 choices per day. Assuming that most people spend around seven hours per day sleeping and thus blissfully choice-free, that makes roughly 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two seconds.

Some people choose to live for the present and give no consideration to their future. They are successful, and their earnings are more than moderate success. Some people leave their current achievements and gains to choose careers outside of their recent success.

Here are two examples of success and failure – two very popular singers of the late 50s and early 60s. They both were described as “Teen Idols” because of their music and popularity. With their fame, they were role models for the day’s youth. Both had big hits that are still played today. However, both of these artists went in entirely different directions due to their life choices. One lived a positive role model life, and one did not.

I will reflect on the “Teen Idol” that went in the wrong direction; he is J. Frank Wilson. His big hit was “Last Kiss,” recorded in 1964. He grew up with a Navy colleague of mine in Lufkin, Texas. Unfortunately, Frank made wrong choices, got hooked on prescription drugs and alcohol, and ran out of money. My friend last saw Frank working in a clothing store before his death from substance abuse. Frank’s bad lifestyle choices, and failure to look beyond his stardom resulted in his demise.

The second, “Teen Idol,” was focused on his life beyond music. His 1958 hit “Susie Darlin” was a classic hit, as was “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson. But, again, he made the right choices and is an example for all to follow. He has offered so much to many people after his glory years in music. His name is Robin Luke. I gathered the initial information that Robin Luke was a college professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, but further investigation revealed he was instead at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.

I sent Robin an email to which he promptly replied. He told me that he retired from Missouri State on December 31, 2010, and had been an academic administrator for 34 of his 37 years in the university system; in the past 28 years at MSU, he had served as department head in the Marketing Department business school. Robin shared that he always told his family and students that choice was the most critical word in the English language. He further stated, “In all my years of making records, I never abandoned my goal to further my education.”

From a nostalgic standpoint, was this the same young guitar-playing singer I enjoyed as a young teen? Could such a person transform from that world to academia – and a career in which he earned a Ph.D., contributing abundantly to education? That prompted me to consider what our world would be like if other entertainers, sports figures, and role models made Robin Luke’s choices. I conclude that we would have a much better world.

Such different lives the two young “Teen Idols” led with their choices. We must always be mindful of the options we choose. We must heed the fact that someone may see us as their role model. If we make the wrong choices, it is never too late to change and make the right ones.

Keith Throckmorton of Perquimans County, NC is a retired from the Fairfax County Police Department.