Monday, April 2, 2007

NPR - Reality of Choice

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail asking some excellent questions about something I'm going through in my life right now. It's a slow change, and will take the next few years. I started awhile ago with professional help, which will continue throughout the process and afterward. The e-mail, though, touched some of my deepest feelings about this change, the ones that resonante in every fiber of you being and your mind, to question your own view and wisdom.

After initially reading it I had to just print a copy and set it aside for awhile, which I'm still in the middle of, but it also got me to thinking about the reality of choices we see and choose. I've written a few post about choice and those we choose to and select from in and about our life. This is about the reality behind those choices. It's partly a continuation of the bounded rationality we use to define the choices, but it's more about the choice and it's aftermath.

While we all want the most information about the choices surrounding an issue in our life, often that's isn't a reality. The information booth is closed, and while we can move a table and put some chairs around it, we can't fill them with those who would most help us make the best decision among our choices. Sometimes, with just our cup of coffee and world going on around us, we have to decide, and hope for the best.

This is especially important and critical when the decision is about something a longterm process or change. We have to decide to go in that direction, decide how to go there, and make decisions on the way. Often the initial decision to go is the easiest because once made we often don't revisit it, unless of course, everything collapses in front of us or it's obvious it's not obtainable in our lifetime. We make these decisions routinely in our life, about our college degrees, our careers, marriage, children, retirement, and so on.

And sometimes we face the hardest of these decisions, about illness such as cancer, deaths of loved ones, suicide, and others. In these we're often faced with choices we'd rather not face but have no choice, it's the reality of being who we are. Our choices are sometimes the lessor of evils, not ones we like, but ones to continue on in life, at least for awhile until we can find better choices. As Father Mulchay said in a MASH eposide once, "Sometimes, when you're in the middle of a disaster, it's best to just keep moving."

And sometimes we face choices of our own making. We choose to do something so radical the only basis we have is our own innate sense of being and our intuition. Our own internal faith in ourselves. It's the choice we make that Satchel Page sometimes means when he said, "Don't look back, something may be gaining on you." It's not a rethink decision once made, and never one to look back, or so we hope. We only want to face the choices in front of us, shaping the reality of our choices.

Until someone, naively or intentionally, says something that questions the very nature of the original decision, our choice to change our life. It's a small earthquake through our soul, shaking the very faith we felt was so right and true, making us face the reality of that choice we thought and felt so strongly about again. It simply hurts to revisit the choices we faced and chose.

In the end, however, these questions are helpful to reassure yourself of the original decision, and review your life since you made it, to know it's still thinks and feels right and true. You may not appreciate this, but, as they say, life goes on with a renewed sense of self. And don't forget to thank the friend.

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