Friday, February 16, 2007


Events have timed themselves oddly regarding things in my own life and this particular post and comment session from ye ol' ZeroBoss. From another blogger we get questions concerning options, whether we ever really have a choice or whether we don't accept that certain things are options. That's my simplistic take on the discussion, but, as I mentioned, people's choices have effected me lately, so I can't help but take this discussion my own direction.

I had other thoughts concerning this idea of choices and options. My life has taught me a specific lesson that seems too often to assert itself. We are often given options, do or don't, go or stay, attempt or ignore. But we forget that those decisions often bring with them options that are checked without our having intended.

We can look at it in one way as the settings on your car radio. You can probably bring up the equalizer and set everything yourself. You could also and more easily just scroll through the settings programmed into the device based on the music you're listening to. But when you choose the preset option, you are also picking to have each option, such as treble and bass, set to those prerequisites. You didn't adjust those options specifically, but by making one decision, you also made a number of other decisions.

Many years ago, I made a decision to leave Atlanta, the city I was born in and grew up in. Much of how my life is now, the places I've seen, the jobs I've held, the children I helped produce, hinged on that decision. I can't know what would have happened had I remained in Atlanta. I know of a number of people who've been effected by my decision to leave, but I can't know how different their lives would have been had I not left.

That's the thing about decisions, that we can't know the long term effects. No matter what we do, no matter how simple we think things are, the least breath in passing can have the most intense and unexpected end.

What if I hadn't been at Little Five Points that day that the girl from NC was leaving to go back home? What if I hadn't decided to throw everything up in the air and go to NC? Would that couple have met? Would that child have been born? And that's not even mentioning my own marriage and children. I'm not considering my own direct contributions, just the way my passage has caused ripples that I can't know. And all this because I recognized the dog the girl from NC was watching as belonging to some squatters that I knew.

That's the thing about options and decisions. We only think we are making a single decision. The truth is that each decision we make opens up a world of other options for more people than we can realize. Often, our decisions set the list of options available to other people, as if we were choosing their radio presets.

I don't mean to say that my existence is especially important in the grand scheme of things. I would wager than anyone among us can look into their past and see things that hinged on their presence in some way, though these situations may have seemed most inconsequential at the time. And often the most important decisions we make end up having very little to do with how our lives turn out.

No comments: