Choices

stariron.jpgI turned on the tv tonight looking for some mindless distraction from life’s annoyances (and nothing works as well as tv), and found the movie “Renaissance Man” starring Danny DeVito. I’ve seen the movie before, but tonight the main character said a simple, yet profound statement I never picked up on before: “The choices we make dictate the lives we lead.”

What that statement says to me is that we are ultimately responsible for where our lives take us. We can’t blame anyone else nor whine about the results because life isn’t “fair.” We exercise free will when we decide to take this job, or marry that person, or buy this house. These paths are unpredictable where they’ll go, but in hindsight we can easily create a flow chart of how we arrived at a certain place. In retrospect, this chart could a useful tool to assess our lives and perhaps strengthen our will in choices of the future.

The star in this picture of ornamental ironwork is the lone star, a symbol of the great state of Texas. I moved to Texas over 30 years ago, a long time to spend in one place while being fairly vocal about living elsewhere. Why am I still here? Have I let the choices of others dictate the life I’ve lead? The answer is obviously no. I’m the one who’s made the conscious choice to stay here all these years, and I’m responsible for all those decisions. Certainly during the many times I’ve made a change to move elsewhere within the state I could have said no, and made a conscious effort to go elsewhere. As creatures of free will we always have a choice. That is an absolute, even though at the time the harder choice may appear disastrous, it still is an option.

I continue to ponder the choices I could make that might finally give me the choice on living I talk about, but I’m realizing more than ever that it’s not one or two decisions that will conspire to make this happen. It will be a series of choices that could eventually lead to my goal of being geographically independent, thus able to have full choice on living elsewhere. And I’m comfortable that it will happen when I’m finally ready, and not before.

5 Responses

  1. You are one of the lucky ones Gary – you’ve got to the point where you realise you HAVE choices. So many people live their lives unconsciously not making that connection. When people aske what are the important moments in therapy I tell them it’s invariably when a client (and I include myself as a client in that) recognises for the first time the fact that they have that power. Nothing is ever the same again!

  2. The only Buddhist scripture I’ve ever really resonated with is the Dhammapada, and my favorite translation (by Thomas Byrom) opens with a chapter called “Choices”:

    We are what we think.
    All that we are arises with our thoughts.
    With our thoughts we make the world.
    Speak or act with an impure mind
    And trouble will follow you
    As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

    We are what we think.
    All that we are arises with our thoughts.
    With our thoughts we make the world.
    Speak or act with a pure mind
    And happiness will follow you
    As your shadow, unshakeable.

    It’s that last couplet that gets me every time: “happiness will follow you / As your shadow, unshakeable.” The Buddha was a great psychologist. He realized that suffering is caused by negative thought patterns (he called this karma). Karma is the law of cause & effect, so if you choose to change the cause…

  3. Close to home

    These days I haven’t had much time for walking, so I’ve been hunkering down close to home. All this week I’ve spent most of my days on campus, inside, so I cherish that handful of moments in the morning…

  4. Close to home

    These days I haven’t had much time for walking, so I’ve been hunkering down close to home. All this week I’ve spent most of my days on campus, inside, so I cherish that handful of moments in the morning…

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