“We are free up to the point of choice; then the choice controls the chooser.” (Mary Crowley).
I had to think a long time about this quote and what it means before I could understand how it might inspire me. To me, what this quote is saying is that all freedom to choose comes before the decision. Once the choice is made, I must live with it. And, once made that choice controls what comes next.
Every day I make hundreds of choices, some large and most small. The vast majority of them I make without a lot of thought, based on my past experiences and my whim of the moment. I have to do it that way. To carefully consider every choice I make would paralyze my day.
What this quote reminds me is that the choices I make control the next set of choices to come. A simple example is the route I take to drive home from work. There are many opportunities for me to choose my route based on what streets I may take. Each time I choose a street, my next set of choices is controlled by that decision. And so it is with all decisions I make. When I choose what to work on in my life, and begin that process, then my next set of choices is governed by that first choice.
For me, the inspiration is not to obsess over small choices I am about to make. It is to remind myself to be accountable for the choices already made. With this in mind, when faced with a profound or important choice, I need to remember that when I am faced with a big decision, I must keep in mind that all choices to follow will be influenced by the answer to the decision at hand.
Interesting —the issue of “choices” is top of mind for me. I read this recently and it resonated: “One of the conflicts inherent in having choice is that we all make different ones. There is always an opportunity cost, and I don’t know any woman who feels comfortable with all her decisions. As a result we inadvertently hold that discomfort against those who remind of us the path not taken. Guilt and insecurity make us second guess ourselves and, in turn, resent one another.” (Sheryl Sandberg). This was written in context to working moms vs. stay at home moms. (The mommy wars — women who work inside the home vs. outside). Also – “So you have each group of women judging the other, because neither group of women has been able to live up to consistent ideals.” The “ideals” discussion for each group was very though provoking. I struggle DAILY.
I understand the context of those quotes, and I think they could apply to anyone who has made difficult choices in life. There is a saying that for every door that closes another opens. I think that is worth knowing here too. When we make a choice, we close a whole set of doors and open a different set. With something as weighty as the debate whether or not to be a working mom is involved, some of the doors that close – regardless of the choice – can still look attractive when they are no longer accessible.
Maybe there is a quote coming about all of us learning to be at peace with the choices we make, and to be confident that we made them with the best knowledge and heart that we could.Or, using the January 12th quote, with the greatest wisdom our self-knowledge could allow.