“Sometimes you imagine that everything could have been different for you, that if only you had gone right one day when you chose to go left, you would be living a life you never anticipated. But at other times you think there was no other way forward–that you were bound to end up exactly where you have.”
– Kevin Brockmeier
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only human being enraptured by fate. Or God. Or whatever the hell is making the sun rise in the east and set in the west day after day. As much as I am curious about how we got here and why it matters that we go, I am so much more curious by the ride of life itself. How we find ourselves where we all and all the little turns and avenues we take to get here.
I think for people that are plagued by their decisions. Not the ones where you have to decide coffee or tea, or which ice cream flavor you want. I think the decisions that keep us reeling at 3 in the morning are the ones where we could stumble into something completely different from the life we have now.
What if I decided UVA was not for me and Syracuse was the college I chose? This is one of those decisions where it is life-altering and in a way, I chose one future over another. But as much as those types of choices worry me, it’s the seemingly irrelevant ones that stay in my brain longer than I’d like to admit it.
For example, I wake up every morning, and some days I take the bus. Other days I take the train. Maybe it seems like a minuscule to some, but what if I take the train, and miss out on who I was supposed to meet that day. It could’ve been something small – like someone giving me advice or the beginning of an adventure.
I am someone who longs for certainty. If a genie asked me if I liked to know the rest of my life, I’d be more than tempted to say yes.
This kind of view is dependent on whether or not, we’re in control. I know we have free will, but I’m wondering what that means – do we choose the path or no matter how many different turns we take, do we still end up exactly where we are now?
So, at the root, for me, this question is about fate or God. It’s about control. Wondering how much of it we have or if it even matters at all.
We get stuck trying to figure out what’s right: is it that school or this one? Is it this job or that one? Is it that person or this one? And in the heat of the moment, it feels as if all the world is weighing on our shoulders. After all, everything that follows this choice is radically shaped by the decision I make.
Left or right?
Left or right?
Left or right?
If I subscribe to the belief that every choice I make leads me to a different future, I WILL antagonize over every little thing. If I’m figuring out which school to go to, I’d visit both. I’d talk to people at both schools. I’d check in with alumni to talk with them about their careers. I’d ask every adult figure in my life which choice I should make. Tally it all up. Take a coin and flip it before I ever made a choice.
But that kind of leads me to this idea of right and wrong. Where I somehow, through intense research and analysis, have to come to this perfect decision for me. That I have to make sure I make the choice that leads me to the most happiness and success and fulfillment.
On the other hand, if every little choice leads me exactly where I am right now, I would never stress again. I would never get so lost in possibilities because the reality is out of my hands. That feels comforting. It feels safe. I never have to worry about the unknown or how I can choose something wrong. The future becomes a static place, and no matter where I end, I end up here.
But then every choice is meaningless. It becomes this predetermined existence, where I have to accept where I am because no other reality was possible anyway. And how can we live knowing the choices we make don’t affect anything at all?
I’m not sure which view I subscribe to. I think the future will always be this scary unknown that I won’t be able to make sense of until I’m in it. I like dreaming about where I’ll end up in 3 to 4 years from now. I could return to New York. I could go to Vancouver like I’ve always dreamed. I could go further South from Virginia and end up in Tennessee. Who knows?
In many ways, it’s exciting and terrifying. But if there’s only one possibility, then there is nothing I should fear.
Decisionmaking tends to lead us into a state of paralysis. Whichever notion sounds right to you, it doesn’t actually make decisions any easier. The deeper root of why we struggle so hard with “making the right decision” is due to time.
“We cannot go back. That’s why it’s hard to choose. You have to make the right choice. As long as you don’t choose, everything remains possible.”
Because time is linear and moves forward, we cannot go back and try again with our decisions. We are stuck with the choices that we’ve made. And believe me, it is easier to dwell on all the possibilities. To write out lists of pros and cons and contact everyone you know for advice.
But you cannot live this way forever.
Whatever notion is true, whether all the possibilities are in our hands or whether fate has already carved the path for us, the worst decision to make is not to make one at all. If I ever plan to carve my own path, I must accept, I will never have all the answers.
Which notion do you subscribe to? Or is there something else? Comment down below and Follow me!