As soon as I woke up today, I found myself pondering over the choices we make. The more I tried to shake the existential thoughts away, the more I sank into the river of melancholy. A series of thoughts followed, which lead me to ask myself a few questions. Why are things the way they are in life at the moment? Was it supposed to be like this? Could it have been different? The only logical answer to all these questions that I could come up with was – CHOICES. We often discuss metaphysical concepts like destiny, hell, heaven, and God. But when it comes to our rational minds, choices can be the only real reason why we end up where we do. Every minute of our lives, we are making choices – voluntarily or involuntarily, consciously or unconsciously. So much so that, not wanting to make a choice is also a choice.
I am suddenly reminded of the series of books that I read as a kid – Goosebumps. It was a horror fiction series by the American author R.L. Stine. These books were very popular at the school library and everyone thoroughly enjoyed reading them. One day I picked one from the stack and began to read. The best part came, when I realised, that I could read the book either from the beginning or the end. After every few pages, I was directed to a page number, where the story would either end or flow into another story. The story would keep changing, depending on the choices I made. There were so many more possibilities that the book offered to me than just turning pages serially. In this case, the choice was what made the experience of reading so enjoyable for me.
Another incident I remember is from the time when I was a toddler. There used to be two things I used to absolutely hate, one was going to school and the other was drinking milk. I could never fathom the idea that as a child I had to leave the warmth of my home and go to school or for that matter even drink milk. I often saw my parents have tea, while sometimes they chose to have coffee. I would always wonder and sulk, why wasn’t I allowed to choose? To me, the choice to not have milk then seemed like a privilege like no other. It made me look forward to being older, like my parents so that I could make my own choices.
Several other incidents like these occurred at various stages of my life, wherein I wished more than anything to have the freedom to make my own choices. Today as a grown-up when I am capable and entitled to make my own choices, I cannot help but wonder what if I had chosen differently? Would my story be more exciting? Had I turned the pages of this book called ‘Life’ differently, with so many different options that it offered me, just like the Goosebumps storybook; would my life be drastically different? Should I have skipped-jumped a few pages, or should I have spent some more time reading a few others? If our life entirely does depend on the choices we make, I cannot help but wonder could I have chosen better?
As children, we are rebellious, just waiting to grow up, so that we can be free to make our own choices one day. Then why is it that when we grow up sometimes, we can’t help but wish that someone would choose for us? How is it possible that something that can make one feel free on some occasions, feel like a heavy burden on others? As kids, we are not mature enough to make choices, though adulthood is all about being responsible. However, what guarantees that the choices we make are the right ones?
At this moment I am already beginning to get tired of the choice to pen down my thoughts about ‘choices’, that I made a few minutes ago. By making it, I hoped that I would be able to get some clarity in my thoughts regarding the big questions that I mentioned initially. The funny part is that I knew the answers even before I started to think about the questions. However, to choose to overlook the answers, in the beginning, was also my choice. By choosing to mull over it, I was able to replenish some wonderful memories from childhood and re-instate my faith in having the privilege and the ability to make choices, and believing that these choices were the best I could make at a given point in time. Whether the glass is half full, or empty, the fact is that it is there, and so is the choice to change it from half full to full or empty it entirely.