The Choices We Make

The choices we make.jpg

I have been thinking about choices lately. About how we perceive the choices we have and how we make the choices we do and how these choices define who we are, especially how we are seen by others. These thoughts have been inspired by Rose Montague, and her very interesting series opener, Jade, which I recently read a second time, as the plot had stayed with me, as had the character of Jade and I felt the need to spend some time with her again to help me clarify this line of thinking that has captured my attention so completely.

I think we all do the best we can with the information we have available at the time.  Jade is a prime example of this phenomenon. Because of her singular status and her ability to preposition herself pretty much any way she wanted, Jade had some interesting choices to make. Some of which had some interesting and unintended consequences. Kind of like the rest of us here in the real world. 

So once again we find truth in fantasy and quite a bit of food for thought along with a fun read. Two birds, one stone, which works for me every time. Because you've got to figure that if supernatural beings with supernatural abilities and supernatural choices can't seem to get it right, how the hell can we mere mortals expect to have any chance at all?

The problem with choices is that there is no such thing as perfect information. And there are so many choices to be made. Every day, day in and day out. Sometimes, the choices are big, or seem that way, and sometimes the choices are small, or at least appear so. And sometimes, the choices are so overwhelming we don't make any choices at all. Which is, of course, a choice in itself.

Why is it so hard to make choices, and why do we so often feel like we don't have any?  One thing I have learned slowly and with difficulty, is that there are always choices. We may not love any or all of the choices, but there's always a choice. I remember when I've been through some of the darkest periods in my life that the hardest part has always been the feeling of being cornered. Of having no options. Of shooting down every single suggestion and every single supposed way out as being impossible, or impractical or illegal (no, one cannot kill people who betray us or hurt us or mess us up in some way, more's the pity). That is one of the worst feelings in the world. Where there aren't any choices, or it feels that way, we lose hope. And without hope we fall into despair.

So choices are important. Good choices are even more important. So why do we so often make bad choices?  And then justify them, at least to ourselves, as doing the right thing?  I know I've been guilty of this on many more than one occasion. Like when I chose to stay with men who were clearly bad for me. Or to go to a party I knew would lead to trouble. I've written about this before click here about how we tell ourselves, "just this once" and make a choice we know is stupid. Have any of us have ever gotten behind the wheel even though we knew we might have had one too many?  Or made a choice to pass along juicy gossip even when we knew that it might not be true and even if it were, our only motivation in sharing it is our own pleasure of telling secrets or making ourselves feel better or bigger or more important by stepping on someone else? Or how about when we take the easier, softer way and put off till tomorrow or next week or next year a decision that only serves to kick the can down the road without resolving a damn thing?  Admit it, we all do it. We make less than the best decision in the name of expedience and tell ourselves we really didn't have a choice at all. 

And while our motives are usually pure--at least in our own minds, the truth is usually a bit more complex. I make choices every single day that are sometimes based in deep denial or wishful or magical thinking.  I think this is because most of us, in our heart of hearts, really want to be able to choose to do what we want, when we want how we want.  As a result we organize our perceptions in such a way that we convince ourselves that we have no other viable options other than the ones we wanted to pick all along.

The problem with this approach is that it doesn't take us down the path of authentic living. It takes us down the path of self-deception and bad choices—choices that do not reflect our highest, most authentic selves. When we are honest, at least with ourselves, about our motives and desires, we can at least make our choices based on self-awareness rather than self-deception. After all, we are the most gullible to dishonesty when it comes from within. Especially when we want something badly, or we are afraid of making difficult decisions.

So, what to do about these choices that life keeps forcing us to make?  For me, the answer is deceptively simple but very far from easy. I believe that our authentic selves, the purity of our souls underneath the fear and the ego and the wishful thinking we pile on top of it, knows exactly what the right choices are, given the available information. And when we make choices that come from our authentic being—that part of us that knows truth—and that part exists for all of us—then we always make good choices, even of the outcomes are not exactly what we expected.

I want my choices to reflect my highest, authentic self.  And sometimes, even often, they do. But not all the time. Because I am human, and I experience fear, anger, insecurity, jealousy, envy, greed, and all manner of less-than-attractive (or even downright unsavory) character traits. Sucks to be human some days. But that is who and what I am. And I can choose to accept that or make the inevitably doomed choice to try to be something other than the flawed creature that I am. Getting through my days. Doing my best. Making the smartest choices I can in any given moment. Being honest. At the very least with myself.

And I can take some inspiration, as I so often do, from my beloved fictional characters in my beloved fantasy books, like the inimitable Jade, and feel connected to her creator, Rose Montague, who clearly understands the complexity of choice and the dilemmas that it can cause for even those who aren't as human as the rest of us. And, for today, I can choose to keep reading my beloved books, which is always a good choice.