There are moments in life when I feel like... the crumb on my kitchen floor.

Like the useless crumb, my life seems just about purposeless, my contribution to the greater whole nil. I roll about aimlessly, awaiting the butt of the broom to toss me to an ignoble destiny.

There are moments in my life when I feel like the crumb on my kitchen floor

Like that crumb, I feel more like a nuisance than a contributor. I while away my time, assuming no responsibility for the future. I am pushed here and shoved there, stepped on at times, merely being influenced or trampled on by my environment, but in no position of control over it.

I just sit there, aimlessly watching life go on around me.

Then there are moments in life when I feel like… an airplane pilot.

I am on top of the world, literally. Nothing impedes or forces my path. Exhilarated by the speed, intoxicated by the distances I traverse, I grasp the rudder of life and progress to my chosen destinations — which are utterly mine to choose.

I am the master of my destiny, deciding where to go, how to get there, and what to accomplish.

When I've had a good day — if I've delivered an interesting lecture that had the participants excited, if I've received a gracious compliment on my work, or if I've had a great discussion with one of my kids or my husband — I'll feel like the airplane pilot.

Two very extreme feelings — which is the real me? But then, when I've had a bad day — something didn't go well at work, or a child is sick, or I've had an argument with my husband, or my creative juices just don't flow — then I'll feel like the crumb on my kitchen floor.

Two very extreme feelings — the worthless crumb, or the triumphant flyer.

Which is the real me? Is either perspective real or true? Pondering these thoughts and vacillating between both emotions, I watched my young son play one afternoon, captivated by his computer car racing game.

"Look," he enthused, "how fast I can drive."

"Great," I replied. "But why don't you steer the car that way?" I pointed to a short-cut, crossing out of the intended path.

He paused his game to explain. "No, Ma. You see, I can stop or start, or go fast or slow. I can steer." He demonstrated these actions with his car. "But I can't go off the path." Twisting the joystick, he showed me his futile attempt to veer too much off the lanes marked on the screen. "See, it doesn't let me go off track."

The thought then occurred to me that our lives cannot really be viewed from on top of the world, like a flyer in his cockpit, nor from underfoot, as a crumb on the floor. I think that a truer, more correct perspective is that of the small "racing car driver" in my child's computer game.

As the racing car driver races down the track of life, his path is clearly marked for him. Road signs show him where to turn and how to progress. There is a beginning, an end, a route to be taken, a distance to be covered.

The next time I feel the haughtiness of the flyer, I'll try to remember that my destiny, too, is tracked out for me. You, G‑d, have plotted my path and chosen my course and are at my side, watching and constantly guiding.

In the end, whether or not I get to the finish line successfully is entirely up to me... But when I feel like the powerless crumb on my floor, I'll try to remind myself that You have empowered me to steer my way through this course; to decide how fast or slow to travel, how sharply or gently to navigate the curves, when to pause and when to surge forward. You have entrusted to me the choice of whether I stop in defeat and succumb to life's obstacles, or forge ahead, undeterred by life's turns and bumps.

You've even built in safety bumpers along the path to help me take the sharper bends — and survive the crashes. You've made allowances for falling off the road and provided a built-in system for me to find my way back, onto the track.

You've done all that. But in the end, whether or not I get to the finish line successfully is entirely up to me.