Throughout our lives, every second of our lives, there is something which we all must do which will create the atmosphere of all which we will experience throughout the rest of eternity. We must choose.
Choose? Choose what, you may ask. How do we choose anything?
The simple fact is that no matter what we are doing, or even if we are doing nothing at all, we are making choices. Choices if by no other sense of the word concerning what we will be doing at that moment, if anything at all. Sound confusing? It really isn’t. Let me try to explain.
A choice is simply an opportunity to make a decision as to which way to go, what to do next, in order to accomplish what you are wanting to do. No big secret in that, right? But where the secret seems obscured is when the crossroads on your path seems to be numerous, the speed of the road gets rapid and the map which is supposed to show you the way to your goal becomes unclear and hard to read.
Every day we all make routine choices as to what clothing we will wear, what we will eat, how we will comb our hair (if we have hair), the route we will drive to work (if, indeed, we drive to work), and so forth. Each of these seemingly repetitious, routine actions involves a number of smaller decisions like is this a work day or a day off which will determine if you wear work clothes or play wear. The only time these types of activities do not involve immediate choices are when you have done the same thing long enough that the activity has become habituated and you no longer have to think of how you will do that activity. At least not consciously. But a choice has been made. Sometime in the past you decided to do something in a certain way, over and over, until such action became routine and planted in the subconscious until the conscious mind no longer had to be involved until you find need to change the decision.
Such need to make choices permeates every aspect of our lives, throughout our lives, and as such helps us to create our own view of the universe wherein we live. Do we see everything and everyone as being dangerous and out to harm us. A pessimistic attitude such as this can create for you a form of hell on earth and endanger you of possible psychological paralyses. This unrealistic view creates within a person the cause for suspicion of everyone and everything they come in contact with, and they often become frozen in their actions because they soon begin doubting even their own abilities.
However, the incurable optimist can often be just as blind to reality because they are so intent that “all is good” that they are blinded to potential dangers which could and most likely should be avoided. The key here is to first gain knowledge, then work toward an understanding of how that knowledge can be used beneficially and then to tempore the positive and negative information you can obtain about any choice or set of choices so you can make a wise choice between the directions you can go. You may recognize this as the message of the “Serenity Prayer” quoted so often.
A good example can be seen in the story of the hiker in the mountains who is wandering along a mountain path to suddenly have the chill of a low growl coming to him from behind. At the point he was at on the trail’s ascent, the hiker knew there was no other way back to the cabin than through the area from where he heard the sound. Not sure of what was creating the growl, he decided against that and tried rapidly to think of other choices out of the danger he felt he was in as he kept climbing the path. As the growls grew louder and the trail grew narrower, the hiker soon came to the end of the trail which, a narrow precipice was overlooking the town below from whence he came.
Decision time. The growl was still echoing to him and his imagination started being wildly creative. But he had to make a decision. Does he go back down the hill to face whatever was making the hungry noises? Not an acceptable choice in his mind, especially since he was unarmed. That would be a similar pessimistic choice as just sitting down on the rock in the clearing, enjoying the day, and waiting for his carnivore host to arrive and eat him. Not a pretty picture. The other choice extreme is to optimistically believe that he can overcome all situations and therefore decide if his 150 pound, nonathletic frame could fight the bear or lion behind him or should he trust that at the last moment he could sprout wings and be able to jump off the cliff and fly to safety in the town below? Well, obviously whether you be a pessimist or optimist, the logic of reason and reality must at some point set in and the hiker must realize that he cannot fight a bear bare handed, nor can he fly, and to try to do either of these things in this physical reality would be simply suicidal.
What could be done? The hiker remembers a way to clear his thinking by taking a few deep breaths and, while doing so, repeating the word “Relax,” quietly to himself. While doing this the question permeated his mind, in the form of a prayer, of “How do I get out of here, safely.” While doing this, the hiker suddenly became aware that, even though the trail ended where he stood, the mountain did not. It went, well, straight up. Now a new choice was having to be faced, but there was no time for an in depth analysis of how to climb this steep precipice. The head of the bear suddenly appeared about 30 yards away. The hiker instantly grabs a stone sticking out from the cliff and started to climb. He was not an experienced climber and had no special equipment with him. But by the time the bear got to the clearing where he had been standing he was well above the animal’s head.
Safely wedged between the cliff wall and a tree trunk growing from it, the hiker sat gratefully thanking God for giving him the wisdom to make good choices. After the bear had made a circle of the clearing, eating a few barriers and walking a circle he had obviously walked many times before, he went back down the path and disappeared. The hiker never knew what the growls were about. Knowing that brown bears are mainly vegetarian, he did not know if the bear caught his scent and was upset that an intruder was in his territory or something else. But the hiker walked back down the trail with a wonderful story to tell without fighting a bear or jumping off a cliff.
Most of us will never have such a dramatic story about decision making such as this, but we must all make decisions at all times. Do you put on your left shoe or your right first every morning? Do you take the back roads to work, or the freeway? Do you vote Republican or Democratic, or which candidate do I vote for in the U.S. election? What do you do about your bills? Do you believe in a God of love or are all things circumstantial?
Whatever you believe, the choices you make, are the reason you see the world as you do. Don’t like the world you see, change how you look at it, change what you’re doing, in short change your choices. But please, think and pray before you choose.