The Big Consequences of Life's Little Choices
The Question of Choice
How can you ever know your life’s particular path? Or rather, how can you know the choices you make are the right ones? Our existence presents us with many options, and, more often than not, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to know which choice is the right one.
Personally speaking, I admit that I’ve agonized over countless decisions… I’ve literally spent entire chunks of time wondering which choice to make. Usually, though, it's come down to making decisions based on impulse rather than the moments I’ve spent weighing out the pros and cons of a given scenario.
This question of choice comes to me after having watched others make decisions that are both dramatic and even a little uncertain. My sister, for instance, got engaged last summer to her boyfriend of more than two years. They immediately began to plan a large and elaborate wedding. In the culmination of almost every woman’s dreams, they put a deposit on a reception room at a castle in Northern Michigan. My sister’s happiness was, quite frankly, tangible.
Somewhere along the line, however, she changed her mind. Despite the deposit, the selection of both wedding parties, and the wedding date (December 2013), she did an about-face and called everything off. This wasn’t because she stopped loving her fiancée, but because she chose to do something very different with the money that would otherwise have been put toward the wedding.
The ceremony she and her fiancée had planned would have cost over $10,000. That’s a hefty hunk of money, especially considering the economy and the couple’s life situations. He is 42- years-old with two daughters and an ex-wife. This will be his second wedding, so he’s not as concerned with the pomp and circumstance, while my sister is 30-years-old and has never owned her own home. She’s always rented condos and is at a point in her life where she’s ready for more stability.
So, the two of them decided to forego the expensive wedding and purchase a home together instead. They’re still engaged and still very much in love. In fact, they’re even happier now than before, largely because they’ve vacated my sister’s cramped two-bedroom condo and have upgraded to a four-bedroom home in the suburbs. They have much more space, but equally important, they have their own space.
Ever since she told me about her decision to call-off the wedding, I’ve wondered how she knew that choice was the right one. Just as I once wondered how my best friend knew that moving from her home to a whole new state was the right decision for her. And just as I wondered when my friend left her job of 25 years – where she had seniority and paid benefits – to start all over again in a new position.
I can look back on my life and admit I have serious regrets. An example of which being my failed marriage. Of course, smaller regrets like wishing I’d taken a particular job or reacted differently to times of struggle also plague me. At the time I was in those circumstances, my decisions seemed like the right ones. Now, however, I’m not so sure. I’ve gotten to where I am today as the cumulative result of the choices I've made in the past, but was it really necessary to take such a difficult path?
I don’t know how any person definitively labels any decision as right or wrong. Perhaps the truth is that none of us know, and we just take leaps of faith based on what we think or feel at the time. Or maybe we make most of our decisions based on our hearts rather than our minds, and as such, we let our emotions – rather than our thoughts – propel us toward the finish line.