Quote of the Day

Saturday, May 2, 2009

decisions, decisions

It's driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal, but lately I'm beginning to find that I Should be the one behind the wheel

Isn't it strange how sometimes things in life can seem to converge, how you can find yourself preoccupied with a certain topic and then all of a sudden someone will mention the exact same idea, or you'll read an article on it, or hear something that reminds you of it? Almost as if the world somehow knows just what is going on in our head and pushes these little nuggets in our direction, little pieces of a puzzle for us to put together and make something out of.

In the past few weeks I've been thing a lot about, and dealing with, the idea of change. Of making decisions, and how decisions can change your life, both a little and a lot. Then last week I randomly heard the song "Drive" by Incubus. I hadn't heard it in a long time, and as I listened to the lyrics I couldn't help but notice how much they resonated with my current mindset and some of the issues I'd been reflecting on.

And then just a few days ago, I noticed a book on the dining table in my apartment, entitled "Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite". I began flipping through it as I sat down to eat my dinner, and found myself smiling and nodding along to what I saw, a bit amazed at how perfectly the words paralleled everything I had been thinking about choices and the paths they can lead us down, about taking risks and the occasional need to be reckless, or what society might view as reckless anyway. Turning a page I saw the headline "IT'S BETTER TO REGRET THE THINGS YOU HAVE DONE THAN THE THINGS YOU HAVEN'T" staring at me from the top of the page. A little spooky, because I could hear myself, just a few months ago, saying almost those words exactly.

And here, in the random acts of hearing a song, of reading a random book that happened to appear in my path of sight, I found these sentiments reiterated: my desire to take the wheel of my life. To stop floating passively down the stream and instead to grab an oar and row.

The fact is this: I realize that my whole life I've been horrible at making decisions. I could try to blame my parents (for always being too involved, for deciding too much for me), but then I think that after a person reaches a certain age that starts becoming a really tired excuse. I think the crux of it is that when it comes down to something even remotely important, I have always become paralyzed with indecision, terrified of making the wrong choice. And so somewhere along the line I made it a habit to avoid having to make these decisions as much as possible, or to at least delay them. I developed a horrible tendency to for a large part just let things happen to me, to take the path of least resistance and thus perhaps least responsibility for my life.

Which is why, when on the day of my 26th birthday I received two phone calls offering two separate opportunities and demanding two separate (and rather immediate) decisions, I felt the old sense of panic rearing it's ugly head. Because as much as I hate the ambiguity of being caught in limbo, it becomes far too comfortable a place when forced with the alternative: to make a stand, to take a chance, try something new. Comfort is indeed a seductive animal. Seductive and dangerous. Because far too often it can lull us into a false sense of what is right and good, and keep us from growing and really living life. And far too often I have let it.

So I will say that I'm proud of myself for the conclusions I came to, for the decisions I've made, despite the fear and the all-too-familiar see-sawing in my mind, the moments racked with self-doubt and second-guessing. I think that in the end it came down to this question I had to ask myself: when blessed with the opportunity to make a change, to grasp onto a possibility the universe has seen fit to drop in my lap and see where it takes me, for better or for worse... how could I say no? How could I throw these opportunities back in life's face and continue on with the same old status-quo-merry-go-round going nowhere?

I've come to realize that once you decide something, once you take the initiative to make that choice and stick to it, there's absolutely no point in looking back and worrying about whether or not you did the right thing. And so I was able to come to peace with my choices, to be ok with letting go and seeing where the road takes me. And in the aftermath of all this, I realized that maybe there really is no such thing as a wrong decision. And by that I'm not including reckless and dangerous choices such as drunk driving or unprotected sex or getting your significant other's name tattooed on your ass. I'm talking about any mulled-over, well-thought out decision made with a clear mind and in good conscience.

Because, after all, to make a decision is to take control of the path your life takes. It is to make a change, or perhaps, to consciously refuse change. And often what seems like the harder choice is the one essential for growth. But to merely avoid decision is to sit passively by while life happens to you, around you. It may seem safer to exist this way, to have circumstance to blame instead of yourself if things don't turn out how you'd like. But I know that's not the way I want to live, at least not anymore.

Certainly in my life there have been choices that I have subsequently deemed as ill-advised, and maybe they were. But in the long run, things have always worked out. The fact is that I'm happy with my life, and with who I am. And every single decision I've made has helped lead me to exactly this point. So then how can I say that I regret any of them? How can we say with certainty that any one decision is the wrong one, when we can never really know the path the alternative would have led us down? Maybe it's necessary to make mistakes in order to learn and to evolve, and maybe a "bad" decision can ultimately lead us to something we never would have thought possible, something we never would have seen had we gone a different way.

The fact is that making decisions is frightening, and to make the conscious decision to change is especially daunting, because we can never really be sure where it may take us. Because going into the unknown, so much can go wrong. But I can say one thing, and that is this: that having made my decisions and taken my stand, even if everything turns to shit, even if all my intentions and plans crumble around my feet, I feel that I can still be happy in the fact that I have been able to find the small amount of courage to make a choice, to take a chance, and for once be moving, not standing still looking out the window as the world spins past. Because from here on out the only regrets I want to have are the decisions I didn't make and the roads I didn't take because I was too afraid of where they might lead. As far as everything else... bring it on, life... bring it on.

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