Making choices is not easy. We are free, but we simply must choose in order for life to advance, new realities to manifest and alternatives to be explored. We experience scales of choice, in terms of gravitas or importance; minor to major, or simple to complex. A ‘minor’ choice might be selecting which variety of tea to purchase in the grocery store (herbal, decaff., with a pretty box, own brand or other, fair-trade, locally brewed, or eco-packaged…and the list goes on)… A ‘major’ choice would be deciding whether to have children or not, or to move overseas for work. A classic dilemma might occur around Love; the choosing of a life-partner for example. Both versions, minor and major, can bring challenges, resulting in anxiety or inner conflict. We remain in control to a degree, and choices are our own to determine and enact. At other times Life seemingly delivers to us events and circumstance, taking individual agency out of the equation.
In choosing, do we hope to arrive at certainty, a sense of what’s concrete? this is more easily attained with reference to tangible outcomes and less so when referencing other people or experiences, which are less measurable or quantifiable and themselves indeterminate or fluid, which can be disorientating and unreliable.
Part of the problem is surely that so many choices now exist. So many possibilities and opportunities are available to us, but this in turn can be overwhelming and hamper progress. The inability to make choices, decisional dilemma, is a common theme presented by clients in our sessions.
For the most part Life seeks more Life, more living, and so there is a drive to make choices if progress, development, achievement and new encounters are necessary for the individual.
I for one have struggled with the notion that in making a choice with a single outcome potential, then all other possible outcomes are negated in the act of choosing, which leads to a seeming lack of commitment. Just the other day a conversation with a friend begged the question of whether I was ‘committed’, and my response was that I am loyal and honourable, but commitment surely is relative to someone or some-thing
Of course this theme must be appreciated in the context of the individual world-view, which informs the ability to make choices or the limiting of choice. For each individual, world-view, pathology and historical narratives will inform the capacity to make choices and in addition discerns what degree of difficulty may be encountered in doing so.
For example, from a Buddhist perspective, the individual holds the power and is supported by the belief that positive causes realise positive impact or effect. So, if I make a choice that creates value (for self and other), this reward is reflected back, as a given. It is a universal and karmic happening in the context of the mystic law of all phenomena.
Due to the very nature of work changing, many people choose or arrive at what’s referred to as a portfolio career, one where you do two or more jobs that contribute towards a total income. Before I worked full-time as a coach, I was at one time simultaneously a property developer, tailor for a global heritage fashion label, designer on a film and a coach. For some this approach to work is ideal, an act of choice, for others a necessity, perhaps due to scarcity of available work. Others appreciate the diversity, having different aspects of their self-satisfied through different working roles or practises. I loved the indulgent craft of tailoring for precision, presence and integrity, I appreciate the need for the visionary in design, and as a coach I get to enjoy brilliant progressive dialogue, satisfying my endless fascination with the human condition. I have discovered that multi-tasking doesn’t work for me; it simply dilutes development of expertise and output in my chosen field. In addition I need the quality of total immersion, to be productive and remain in a state of flow.
In particular I find creative people to be inclined toward diversity and expansion in general; perhaps a reflection of their broad-mindedness, curiosity and capacity for the imagined. It is archetypal of ‘The Artist’ to seek the new, peak experiences, altered states (spiritual/psychedelic) and engage learning and realisation. Is curiosity ever sated? Process as a continuum, is open-ended, progressive and exploratory. A very specific quality and nature of experience is sought by the artist, who is in need of inspiration, motion, form, movement and colour to satisfy and actualise works.
The art of boundary making is anathema to most creatives, for the very notion that anything is fixed in nature somehow contradicts the existence of the conceptual, of endless possibilities. If choices narrow our field of experience, this is not congruent in the realm of the creative.
I wonder if the idea of right and wrong (when referencing choice) is born in secular belief systems, in original sin. I question whether we can in fact make wrong choices however. Ultimately, one choice leads to one outcome and another choice arrives at a different outcome. Since these cannot be pre-determined, only surmised, faith and hope are necessary in activating the courage to action decision making. For better or for worse, one cannot say until one’s mind is made up, and the act played out. We are free, but we must choose.
In many ways that choice exists for us is a privilege, the personal responsibility itself can be the dilemma and subsequently the obstacle to advancement.
Such is the trend for the effete. In being effete, the individual is rendered incapable of choice, rather choosing to go with the flow. The ‘no-plan plan’ essentially depends on whether you value certainty and the concrete, an aloofness or ambiguity, autonomy or passivity.
Informed choices are the ideal for some, whether they be strategic or made with an approach of faith; trusting that the outcome will be the ‘right’ one…or a good one at least.
I find it reassuring to make confident choices, based on trust and a track record of ideal outcomes that have resulted from choices well-made, apparently, and only with the added advantage of being viewed with hindsight.
We may encounter inner conflict as we attempt the making of choices. Finally, it is the act of choosing which brings certain relief.