Wednesday, October 6, 2010


One of the grandest parts of being a human being is having the ability to choose. We often look this gift horse in the mouth because we are inundated with so many options every day that we tire of the luxury of the freedom of choice. Sometimes, we just want someone to decide for us because even something as innocuous as a simple trip to the local Starbucks can be quite the adventure with all of the various beverages, types of milk, sweeteners, and sizes from which to choose. Other times, we find that we have honed our ability to choose to a fine point. We become so particular or choosy about everything that a typical "girls' lunch" can become a waiter's worst nightmare.

Some of us are better than others at choosing. This is quite the understatement, you know, because we all know people who are brilliant in various areas of life...except one. They may choose the right college, career, place to live, and company to work for...but end up with a spouse that is completely jaw-droppingly wrong for them. Or...someone has the means to live in a place where their property could appreciate and instead chooses to move somewhere that quickly becomes crime-ridden and unsafe for some inexplicable reason. Or someone is so certain of what they want to do after college that they end up choosing a course of study that takes them down to the last semester - student teaching, the capstone class in the business school, or clinicals. It is usually only then that that they suddenly realize that they have picked Door #3 with the jackass and hay bales instead of the trip to the French Riviera.

I suppose that nobody gets everything right. I mean, life isn't terribly predictable and even our best intentions can go awry. Personally, there are some decisions that I've made in home decor that have been truly awful. I also had some kind of love affair with eyeliner during my youth that now seems like an abusive relationship in the photos from this sad little point in time. I have to overlook that when I look at those pictures...because I treasure them as actual proof that I was once young and thin.

Today I listened to someone hurting as a result of someone else who is making a pretty boneheaded decision today. Someone is throwing away something valuable and good for something that is fleeting and ridiculous. It makes no difference, however, for whatever reason, and no matter how bizarre it seems, it is that individual's choice to make. And, I might add, to live with.

Every day we make choices about what we will eat or drink, how we will invest our time and money, and who we will choose to care for or ignore. When we are young, we think that we have plenty of time to work through all of it, and sometimes that is true. But what we don't know then that we learn later that when we make choices...there's usually some opportunity cost involved. We may gain something...but we lose something else at the same time. Sometimes we don't really understand what we are giving up until it is too late.

I have known people who get stuck on something that happens in their lives and have difficulty seeing anything except that mountain. I'm not saying that where they are is unimportant...because to them it isn't. They didn't choose for something painful to drop into their path, but it did. Maybe they were the victim of someone else who made a choice that altered the course of their lives. Or they were the cleanup committee after a crash or fall. But what many of them don't seem to understand is that they really do have a choice of their own to make when the storm is over and the waves recede. They can move on...or choose build an altar to the great disappointment/failure/loss...and worship there daily.

Other times, we find that we are grateful for the way some of our decisions turned out. Maybe we picked the right mate...or we have a wonderful family...or are doing something occupationally that we absolutely love. We look back and are amazed at how we got from point A to point B when for a while we seemed hellbent on going some entirely different direction. I know people who dated for years and years and then ended up happily married to other people. Or like a family member of mine...retire from one occupation to follow a second career.

But we look at those times when our course was altered because someone encouraged us, made a suggestion, saw something in us that we'd never considered, or simply cleared the way. Sometimes, there is no other explanation other than believing that we found the right path for our lives only by the grace of God.

But each of the tiny decisions made hour by hour and day by day eventually become, well...our lives.

Maybe you are one of those people that struggles with decisions. Who weighs everything pro and con and makes the final decision after much soul searching and angst. I suspect that you've found that a lot of decisions get made for you because you were still weighing your options when the buzzer went off. There's nothing wrong with being intentional about what you do...but sometimes flying by the seat of your pants is actually a liberating experience. I don't recommend it as a way of life, but when it truly doesn't matter if you have the creme brulee or the red velvet cake...flip a coin...or just order them both.

Other people make decisions at the speed of light. They are the "" crowd...and they blow through life like a miniature tornado. They go with their "gut" and they spend a lot of time apologizing. On the positive side, though, they tend to be able to get folks out of tight situations, they don't spend a tremendous amount of time worrying about the details (primarily because they don't have time) and can be counted on in a crisis to at least be doing SOMETHING.

It takes all kinds, I suppose.

So, as you go through your life tomorrow and the day after that and so on...remember that you always have a choice. You can allow things to bother you...or rise above them. You can choose to love, get involved, experience, start, try, recover, grow, finish, forgive, improve, master, overlook, respond, or retaliate. Or not. The choice is up to you. And if you happen to choose that you can eventually find your way back home.

No comments:

Post a Comment