We have all had the experience of listening to someone complain about the restrictions they have in life—bad marriage, bad boss, bad luck, bad hair—and what is remarkable about these “conversations” (do you ever get a word in edgewise that isn’t slapped down?) is that when it is not ourselves, we can usually see a way out. Of whatever “prison” this person imagines themselves to be in. We are all the MacGyver of other people’s traps; meanwhile we remain hopelessly ensnared in our own. Why is this? Why is choice so easy to make for someone else and not ourselves (more on that in a minute)? Partly it is simply perspective…it’s hard to tell what you’re looking at when your face is all mashed up against the glass…and partly it’s because our traps feel safe to us. There are stories of literal imprisonment in which a captive, when given the opportunity to escape or even be rescued, does not want to take the chance. We are all like that to some degree or another. We all have relationships and situations in our lives that we dream of escaping without seeing it is our choice not to, usually because losing that “trap” also means losing a whole bunch of excuses we are making for ourselves. We love our excuses more than our freedom.You always have a choice. Some people accept this as fact without actually acting on it; others rail against it, maybe YOU have a choice, but not me, NOT ME! Because the choice isn’t necessarily a “good” one. Because the choice may look a little like “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. Because the choice feels like a one-way street, a dead end. And maybe it is. But frying pan or fire, your situation sucks, so why not change the scenery? And I don’t know about you, but not only have I driven the wrong way down a one way street (thanks to the cop who let me off with a warning), I’ve also backed my way out of a dead end. Because you always have a choice. There is always one more move to make. And chances are your next move won’t be your final one because that is not how life works. But just like when you are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, ANY movement can feel like relief. Any movement will feel like positive change. Because when you move away from something undesired, it stands to reason you have already stepped into something more desirable. You have stepped on the gas, so to speak.
It is easy to think you know what is best for somebody else because you have not walked a mile in their shoes; or a hundred, or a thousand, like they have. There is something tragicomic about the fact that we often feel like we don’t have enough information to make an appropriate choice for ourselves, but are frequently convinced we have enough input to be making good, sound life decisions for other people, EVEN PERFECT STRANGERS #roev.wadeforever! We all make hundreds of choices a day; some work out great, others not so well but that shouldn’t stop us from getting up and starting all over again. Our choice is our freedom. We always have a choice. And, in the wise words of the Canadian rockers from Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you have still made a choice”. So practice exercising your freedom of choice, and please, allow others to do the same. Even if you have to drive down a few dead end streets, you are on the road again. And change is not only good, it is essential.