Life is all about choices.
Some choices are forced upon us. Say you have a disease that can be treated but the cure may be worse than the disease itself. Technically you have a choice, but in situations like this, the choice is often clear.
Some choices are made for us. If the government decides to pay for a new study – say a study of the health damage caused by peanut butter chip cookies – your tax dollars will pay for that, whether you believe peanut butter chip cookies have an inherent health risk or not. True, you have the option to protest or vote differently in the next election, but at the end of the day, somebody will get paid to outlaw peanut butter chip cookies, and you will have another choice to make: remain a law-abiding citizen or go to the black market for peanut butter chips.
Some choices can be strongly influenced by your friends. If your entire group of friends is going to a party, chances are that you will end up going too. Yes, you can absolutely choose not to go, if you are cool with hanging out alone Saturday night, binge-watching “New Girl” on Netflix.
But it’s the choices that you – and you alone – have to make that can be the most challenging. I’m not referring to “Do I wear my black shirt or blue tank top…” or “Should I paint the kitchen yellow or white?” kinds of choices. I’m talking about the bigger ones. The life-altering changes like, “Do I quit my job?” or “Should I leave my wife?” or “Should I have a child?” or “Should I pick up and move cross-country on a whim?”
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to make these decisions. Some people pray for answers, some people draw up lists of pros and cons, some people flip a coin. I personally am a “researcher.” I try to gather as much information as I possibly can, play out all the possible (and sometimes even the improbable) outcomes in my head, get input from those I trust on the topic, then make a considered decision, making what I think is the best choice, based on what I know at that time.
Sometimes I’m right; other times I’m wrong. And still other times – happily few and far between, thanks to a little luck – I’m REALLY wrong. But in the end, the challenge of choice is the price you pay for freedom. I’m glad that I have as many choices in life as I do, and I will live with the consequences, good and bad.