And do they make you proud?
Lately, it seems I am haunted by the countless choices and non choices I’ve made over the course of my life:
- the choice to leave Florida State University and my first love;
- the choice to remain unmarried;
- the choice to forgo motherhood;
- the choice to date that beastly sadist;
- the “choice” to be so depressed I couldn’t call my youngest brother on his 30th birthday for which I don’t believe he’s ever forgiven me;
- the choice to decline “kissing” Larry’s (the Chief Financial Officer at a company I once worked for) arse;
- the choice to live in the f**king racist and religious den of evangelical nonsense of deep south USA;
- the choice to forgive my dad; the choice to give up dating black men who are mentally ill as a result of systemic racism;
- the choice to date a white man instead;
- the choice to…
The impact of our choices are insignificant and significant
To be human is to make choices: tiny, big, easy, tough, and/or heart-rending choices. And over the course of a single, full lifetime, we will easily make thousands of them.
If we’re damn lucky, we’re in charge — or at least have the appearance of such — of the majority of our choices. However, some choices will be rudely forced upon us by life and other people. Still others will be the consequence of our own paralysis. Yes, not choosing is still a choice.
Some of our choices will be insignificant and forgettable as if written with a white colored pencil on plain, white paper. While too many other choices will have the capacity to reveal, shape and refine our character; determine the very quality and content of our life; and even have the potential to destroy it. In other words, they will leave indestructible evidence on our lives.
Do you have a personal philosophy? No? Maybe you should consider it.
From my youth, I’ve had a personal philosophy for every area of my life: (1) how to live healthy; (2) how to dress; and, maybe most important of all, (3) how to be a high-quality human being.
When making choices about what kind of daughter, sister, friend, sweetheart, employee, or stranger I am, I try to choose a path that upholds all four of the my chosen principles:
Having reached early middle age and looking back in hindsight, possessing compact, defined, and expressed philosophies I could turn to during my moments of decision and indecision helped me make choices that align closely with my intended desires and goals and save me from a headlong dive into nonsensical, bullsh*t we humans seem inexplicably drawn to.
Mostly, this approach to life has done right by me. But, if I am totally honest, I’ve still managed to step into steaming piles of sh*t along the way. For example, my entire naive, clueless misunderstanding of romantic relationships with men has been a hysterical, epic disaster. I didn’t know this then, but thanks to repeated, excruciating lessons I know it now: It doesn’t matter how attractive you are; how interesting or intelligent you are; or how much you attempt to make the game of romance equitable. Finding true love takes cosmic level luck. And equity between the sexes is, well, unlikely. And no matter how nice or good a person you are, there are hordes of people who think nothing of lying to you and crushing the oxygen out of your heart for the casual sport of it. And, guess what?! All my life philosophies couldn’t prepare me for that reality.
These days, even though I’m certain I did the best I could at the time I made various choices throughout my life, I can’t say I’m “happy” or even “content.” Frankly, I still feel adrift, confused, and unsure about most of it. Truth is, as I write these words, I’m pretty sure “happiness” or “contentment” are cruel illusions for most of us. And then, we die.
But maybe thinking “being happy” is the point is the blunder we make. Maybe the point isn’t living a life that is an endless continuum of happiness. Maybe the point is to make sure our choices are our own and not the by-product of childhood or adult trauma; the conceit of others who think they know what is best for everyone else; or the whims of an outdated, fickle, reckless society and culture.
At any point in time, can you say “I’m proud of my choices? And are they consciously and thoughtfully mine?”
Moreover, maybe the point of human life is the growth of our emotional intelligence over a lifetime that expresses conscious and moral choices supportive of the many and not just the few or the one.
God, I desperately hope so. Because if it is, then regardless of my imperfect life journey or my current level of happiness or contentment, I can be damn proud of my choices. How about you?