Life is choc full of choices. At every turn, there is something new to decide. What to eat for breakfast. What to wear to work. Shall we eat out? Is it time to for a career break? When will we have children? Where to invest? The list goes on. Making life's choices, small and large, can feel like a gamble. A game.
Black or red, first choice. Then there are choices within and beneath that choice - will it be an ace, spades, clubs or hearts? Every color has its own shade of grey. By choosing red, does the option to choose black just disappear? If we go with hearts, does it mean that we can never try clubs? Sometimes, we get lucky and choose an ace; and sometimes, no matter what we choose, it feels like a losing hand.
We compare our own cards to the cards of others, which can tend to appear more positive or fortuitous. To the person holding the cards, it may not seem that way at all. It's hard to tell, especially if they can keep a poker face. The cards will always look better to the person who isn't holding them. They're designed that way.
Emile Durkheim studied the social factors contributing to suicide and classified the phenomena into types. One type, he dubbed Anomic, inflicts those who are unable to find their place in society, those who never really feel they belong anywhere. Durkheim believed that the progressive society (of the late 1800's!) offered up far too many options; that people struggled to fit in and understand their true purpose, resulting in internal revolt. I suspect that Durkheim would balk at the vast array of choice we face today, and the sea of opportunity we can drown in.
We set out deliberately to ensure our access to what could be restricted or inaccessible to us in the future. Recently while touring Fiji, I learned that its native children are granted the gift of free education by their government, yet they have a substantially lower literacy level than the high contingent of students whose families have emigrated to Fiji from India.
And, why is this? Because Indian children do not share the land entitlements of their Fijian counterparts. They know they have to work hard at school to ultimately be employed, buy land, and make homes of their own. The children of Fiji, however, will continue to occupy land that has been owned and occupied by their families for generations. No matter what they do or don't do at school they will have somewhere to live, and their essential needs will be met. They are not as motivated, because they don't associate the benefits of education as being fundamental to their existence.
Uncertainty breeds motivation. We are all driven in different ways and have a range of levers that pull us from one end of life to the other. There are occasions when our usual buttons seem unresponsive. When our most basic instincts are not enough to push us forward.
It's those times, when "they" say that "timing is everything". It shouldn't be "everything", but it does bear weight. It can feel like the wrong time to make a call, when your chips are down or you're on a losing streak. Someone once told me that if you're struggling between two options, then neither of your options can be that bad. When the pros and the cons do not tip the scales to present a clear winner, you can't really go wrong. Just choose something.
While I quietly insist to myself that it must be more clever and courageous to make a decision based on your innermost motives, rather than external and sometimes imagined influences, I also question; does it actually matter? Perhaps it's just better to choose (period) than to sit and stare at the cards, hoping, praying, perhaps in vein, for something to change by itself.
No matter what you choose, another hand will always be dealt, and while our choices are not finite, our moments here on earth most certainly are.
The important thing is that we decide. We choose something. We be right, we be wrong. Whatever. We exercise our agency, our freewill and remember that our right to choose will still exist afterward.