Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Flip Or Not To Flip

The choices we make determine the choices we get to make.

Dana Bate
Hello Abu Sunbul, Egypt
I once knew a young man who was a typist for a law firm but who had plans to become rich. One day he said "The only thing I want to worry about is whether to shop at Gucci or Fendi." He might as well have said Tiffany or Cartier. Those may be hard choices for a wealthy person, but they are non choices for a man on a limited budget such as myself. Sometimes, if I happened to go that way, I would stop and admire the fabled window displays at the Tiffany building. But go through the front door? No.

Rich or otherwise our lives are comprised of choices. Like beads on a string, one choice leads to another and another after that. And each choice we make eliminates all the others, at least temporarily. It's very tempting to look back over our lives and wonder what would have happened if we had gone left instead of right, or if we had taken a chance on something which we avoided. But it's a thoroughly pointless pastime. You didn't go left, you didn't take the chance, so don't think about it. Or if you do, do it to learn about yourself. (Arlene understands that. Don't you Arlene?)

Choices are very simple, whether to have a fried egg or a boiled egg for breakfast. On the other hand they may be very complicated, which college to go to, what career path to take, whether to get married or not, where to settle down. Once one of those choices is made it opens up a whole series of other choices, other beads for the string, and each one of those choices presents another series of choices. Ethical, financial, social, professional, religious, physical, etc. we never run out of choices.

Some things look like choices which aren't. Did you choose to drop that jar of jam on the floor? Of course not. It's what to do next that is your choice Did you choose to have the automobile accident? No, but what's next, to go and rage at the other driver or to calmly get the important insurance information and get on with life? Sometimes life throws us a curve ball. The choice is to hit it or let it pass.

I used to be a horse player, I wagered money on horse races, and I was good at it. I made a profit because I was very careful and conservative about how I used my money. I carefully researched every horse in a particular race, never played favorites because they were favorites, or long shots because they were long shots. The odds didn't concern me. Profits large or small were what concerned me. I used to refer to it as investing in a small business, with four legs, a head at one end, a tail at the other and a small person sitting on it. A major lesson I learned from that experience was that the time to worry is before I put my money down, not after. Once the wager is placed sit down, enjoy the sunshine, watch the race and wait for the result.

Sometimes it seems as if life is waiting for you to make a decision, but not offering any advice. Then as soon as you make a choice life says "Okay. In that case you have the following options" and you wonder why you didn't know the options before hand. It's not knowing what is behind the doors you are facing that makes life frustrating and makes choosing difficult.

Then there comes the most difficult choice of all, to give up on life or to go on living.

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?"

Drowning in a sea of troubles is a very real possibility and a very real choice. But if the only armor you have against the approaching tide is a rock then throw the rock at the sea and search for another one. The tide will go out and if you fill up the shore with enough rock hard choices when it comes back in again it may not reach you.

To compromise myself by letting all the results of my wrong choices and the flying arrows of outrageous bad luck wash over me and then quitting the fight is not my option. Even in the face of creeping errors and meager opportunities, I have other roads to seek and other doors to open. In front of all the great philosophers I read, from ancient Greece to modern California, my rule of life is summed up in three simple words: never give up.

DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest)

NASA has planned to send a two man mission on an 18 month trip to the planet Mars. It would take 6 months for the astronauts to get there and after 6 months of exploration another 6 months to return.

Should they do it and why, and if not, why not?

Only 6 answers so far

I eagerly await your answer.



Valerie said...

very wise and inspirational words, thank you =)

pacifica62 said...

By making choices we are taking responsibility for our life. One can procrastinate only so long before someone else makes the decision for us and then there is no choice. We don't always make good decisions for ourselves but those times serve to teach us to make better decisions next time. It is all life experience. It is such a privilege and a freedom to be able to choose for ourselves. I often wonder why people are so willing to give up that privilege and let someone else (like the government) make the choices for them.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Choice is one of the only things we can control, choose how to react, choose how to be, choose where to be.