To Choose, or not to Choose: that is the Question! – Thoughts on the Challenges of Choice

“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!” ~ Oscar Wilde

It’s a curious thing, choice. So many choices, so little time…

Life could be compared to a game of chess; which is said to have as many possible moves as there are atoms in the universe. When I read that staggering statistic it changed my perception of the game.  It could be said that in each moment of our existence we have a similar array of responses and decisions and thoughts to contend with, along with the consequences of said choices. Which way do we go?

Einstein - InsanityFreedom isn’t free. There is always a price for choosing a particular set of beliefs, to how we conduct ourselves, the friends and partners we share our lives with; from the outer enemies and inner demons we do battle with. It’s called Karma.  In theory, wise choices result in beneficial outcomes, not just for ourselves, but also the world around us. The not so inspired choices serve as fodder for learning: for looking back at our lives and understanding where we strayed from our source. Looking back in hindsight at our more torpid and turbid moments will lead us to navigate clearer, more erudite ones.

wrong-choices-right-placesPersonally, I have found many of my profoundest growth moments (the ones that lead to intense suffering and hard times), were the catalysts for the most positive changes in my life. It was all about overcoming; digging deep and finding that indefatigable spirit that had taken a battering from the world, and accepting my part in it. Once we accept responsibility for our choices it frees us to make mistakes and pursue our happiness with more awareness.

Dr. David R Hawkins on taking a fearless inner inventory / taking responsibility:

Someone once said: the furthest distance any of us have to travel is the six inches between our ears. We create and co-create everything. There is nothing that exists outside of Self.

We are all the authors of our own life story, choosing our characters, creating the plot (or losing the plot!); literally making it up as we go along. Will it be a thriller? A tale of crime?  A sweeping love affair? A comedy perhaps? Those who get bored with the same genre may have had a mixture of all of the above! And the axiom write what you know tends to lend itself to our personal fiction.

keep-calm-and-make-good-choices-38You might say we can’t choose our circumstances or our family. To some degree that is true, we all have a certain hand dealt us at birth. We may have been blessed with loving parents in a peaceful country, or at the other end of the extreme as orphans in a war zone.  Having rich parents and a comfortable life does not always make for the happiest of people. Others manage to escape the gang culture they have become embroiled in in their youth.  The ones that didn’t accept their circumstances were the ones that chose a different set of circumstances. All we can do is make the best of our raw materials.

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting, heaven lies about us in our infancy.” ~ William Wordsworth.

As babies, we are innocence and love personified, each a blank canvas, where the background is first painted on by our parents. From there, layers of experience and meaning are gradually woven into our masterpiece, sometimes forcefully and suddenly by a traumatic experience. We are all scarred to some degree by our past. This is how we form our own personal map of reality. The way we assimilate our experiences is what makes us who we are, what shapes our personality. But we can’t blame our childhood for everything.

We can take a knife for instance, we can either choose to butter a piece of toast or stab someone.  Likewise we can decide how to react when someone offends us.  Looking deeper at what the world throws at us, we might see it is a reflection of us. If we have an issue with authority then we may come into contact with a person who is highly controlling for example.

I now make an effort to take a more balanced view of such individuals who try my good will. It can be challenging to suspend one’s judgement, but it’s also quite liberating. Don’t take life personally. It takes awareness to practise compassion and understanding, (this is an ongoing and not entirely successful endeavour for me), to see past the person with their undesirable behaviour, and into the human being underneath, essentially another sentient being who feels and has emotions much the same as I do. It’s just that they have chosen a different path, based on their unique experiences. The blame game won’t solve anything.

Avatar Compassion Exercise

The souls that we feel the most affinity with perhaps share similar beliefs to us, but the souls who challenge us the most are the ones who do not share the same beliefs and values, and who have made radically different choices. But what none of us can escape from, is that our choice of thoughts affect our beliefs, which ultimately determine our actions, and, interwoven with the actions of others around us come results. Good or bad, it all comes down to choice.

Whilst we cannot force the choices of others, (as the saying goes: someone convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still), but we can however, choose to follow Gandhi’s advice, and be the good we wish to see in the world.  Make choices that others might aspire to. In these uncertain times humanity needs our collective souls to step up to the plate.

Be still, and listen to your heart. May you choose to believe the best about yourself and make inspired choices!

I’ve chosen to finish with a poem. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

“We are our choices.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre