‘Do you want to go out tonight, or stay in?’ He asks as he folds her into his arms.
‘Do you want to play at the park tomorrow, or go to the library?’ She asks her son as she tucks him in.
‘Do you want to wash the dishes, or dry them?’ I ask my sister as we clear the table.
Some choices are easy. They don’t require much thought. They’re based on how we feel in the moment and we follow our instincts with confidence.
Our days are made up of these choices, of small, mundane, inconsequential decisions that we barely notice. The passage of time in our day-to-day existence can be reduced to a series of these choices.
But there are also the choices that aren’t so easy. These are the ones that mark our milestones and characterise our years.
What career should I pursue? Where should I live? Should I spend my life savings on travel? Or would I be smarter to invest it in real estate? Should I give in to my wanderlust with reckless abandon? Or should I spend some time forging my career? Should I start a business? Write a book? Give up everything I know to start a life on the other side of the world?
These are the choices we agonise over, the ones that disturb our nights and haunt our days. We consider all the possible future outcomes of the choice we might make right now and it scares us as much as it thrills us.
Because to choose means we exclude other possibilities. It means our path diverts away from the other option (or options). And if we start walking down one path, we walk away from everything else.
And what if we hate it? What if our life could have gone a different way? What if this path is booby trapped? What if I never end up happy? What if there was something better waiting for me down a path I turned away from?
What if, what if, what if.
And so we stand there paralysed by the endless consequences of our choice – the possibility of a tidal wave forming later on in life if we let the butterfly flap its wings right now. We convince ourselves that it would be so easy for us to make the wrong choice.
Even though there’s no such thing.
Choices can’t be wrong any more than they can be right. Wrong or right is a judgement we can only possibly make in hindsight, after we’ve lived it – months, even years later.
In the moment, our choices can only be good or bad.
We use the information we have, based on our experiences, the experiences of others, our awareness of the world around us and our moral code, to determine choices that sensible and choices that are foolish. We call on all our internal resources to determine the risks worth taking, and the risks that aren’t.
We just don’t always trust it. For some choices, they feel so pivotal that they will alter the course of our lives. And sometimes, they do. But a desperate need to know the ‘right thing to do’ will keep you anchored in place – never moving forward, never forging ahead.
Embrace the flow of your life without trying to predict its course. Let your path take you places you never imagined you’d go; let it give you a life different to the one you dreamed.
Inhale and make a choice. Close your eyes if you have to, for as long as it takes to be blind to the fear. Because your choices can never be right.
But, they can also never be wrong.