Friday, November 26, 2010

The Last Choice

There are times in every person's life when he or she is presented with a choice that amounts to a life-changing decision. There are many more times, when a person faces the little decisions that either expand his choices or narrow them into the big ones. There is, however, only one time when a person chooses never to make another choice.

This can come at any time. It can come early in life, or it can come late. I believe that it begins very early, but that the capriciousness of youth refuses to commit to the "last choice." However, life wears on us. Our responsibilities wear on us. What others expect from us and what culture imposes on us take a cumulative toll, and eventually, we become susceptible to the allure of giving up our independence.

There are three paths that can be taken here, though the third is tremendously hard for the individual to see, and even harder to explain to another. The first—and easiest—is to simply make the last choice. That is, to give in to all that is demanded of you without personally prioritizing, planning, and sacrificing. The second is to run from the choice and to do—as nearly as you can—the exact opposite of what is demanded of you. This, again, is done largely without any personal prioritizing, planning, or sacrificing because it is merely a negative reaction which is dependent on the same demands. It is not true independence.

The reason that I say the third path is hard too see and explain is that it entails a personalized mixture of these two previous paths. It is neither conformity nor non-conformity. It is also not "individualism" which I once would have called it because that word excludes all notions of teamwork, which is often necessary. The third path is simply the will to keep making choices and the desire to make the right ones, dependent only upon one's own well-defined (and continuously refined) vision of his ideal life.

It is a lot of work being present for your own life. However, if you want to have any amount of real peace and happiness, being proactive is essential. At first, it may seem like you are fighting battles left and right just to stay on the path. It may seem that you are giving up a great many opportunities for fun and pleasure. Actually, you are—at first.

However, anyone who has made the choice to keep making choices will tell you that the minor skirmishes and amusing diversions—as they become—shrink in comparison to the great things in life that can only be achieved by staying on your personalized "straight and narrow." Certainly you will need a mentor (or many) to keep you on that path. You will need to intake the right information and ever broaden your perspective. You will need to be able to let go of the past and endeavor to continuously improve. And you will have to think for yourself. It is worth it. So make THAT your last choice.

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