As a child, I was taught that God gave humans the ability to choose.
Free will they said.
As a young adult, I have learned that even if that choice is God given, it is still mine to make.
With this ability, I can choose where my future will take me or where it won’t.
It is easy, however, to get seduced by free will and its allure of control.
Free will, you see, is not control. It’s simply the illusion of it.
If it was, why would humans feel such trepidation, anxiety, and angst when making certain decisions? If we had control of the outcome or certainty about the end result, would there be such a thing as anxiety? doubt? worry?
When we mistake free will with control we are asking to be hurt, disappointed, for our expectations not to be met.
But before I get too far astray in the esoteric, I want to bring this back to the real purpose of this message.
To illustrate the hauntingly beautiful truth about free will and the power of choice.
You will always have a choice, even when you have absolutely no control.
Now when it comes to choices, it is clear that not all choices are easy.
In another paradoxically beautiful truth, the most challenging choices, and even the choices we get in every way “wrong” are the ones that are the most profound and life changing.
Which begs the question:
How do we even come to the feeling that a choice needs to be made?
Some choices that require immediate action are obvious as to how they arise, I needed to pick out a shirt before I walked into work entirely naked. We can all agree that a clear choice needed to be made at a very precise time..
But what about the not so clear, time independent choices, the ones that seem like there may not even be a choice in the first place?
What prompts us to feel like we need to make a choice?
Or should I say
Need to make change?
Is it because we feel that we cannot keep up with our current situation and the pieces are falling left in right?
Is it the universe speaking to us to say it’s time to do something different?
Is it because we know things can get better, even if we don’t really know what better looks like?
In my experience, all of these reasons, and many more are also true.
Choice, you see, implies change. Now you may argue that choosing not to chose doesn’t result in any meaningful change, or choosing to delay the choice in question also resulted in net no change, but I would argue this is far from the truth.
Ever heard the expression it took a hundred times until ***
What if I stopped asking my patient after attempt number 3 to try to incorporate meditation into her life?
Would I have ever have gotten to the 57th time when she said, I actually tried it and wasn’t so bad, and I actually found it rather fun.
Free will does not mean control.
But choice is always change, even if you can’t see it and realize you actually made a choice.
But coming back to the main question again
What compels us to make a choice, make a choice when it’s not 8 AM and we have to put on a shirt?
For that my friends, I share with you the story of my “sister” Rhett.
In her very own words.
Recently, I started to feel a deepening anxiety and a feeling that “something was just not quite right”. I recognized and acknowledged that I was incredibly fortunate to pursue my education in Germany and I could not be happier with my life here.
I have great friends, a sweet little studio, and am in the center of Europe.
I started noticing I was asking myself a million times, “how could you want to change when everything is going well?” “when you have everything and more than you could have dreamed of?”
But the feeling would not go away and I knew that I needed to change something.
I needed to make a choice. A choice that ultimately lead me down an entirely unexpected path.
I decided to embark on a new journey of changing universities. The German education is one of the most confusing things I have tried to tackle. There are a plethora of different forms I need- not to mention they are all in a language I do not speak fluently, and since I am an international student; my highschool diploma does not allow me to study directly at a public university. In a practical sense me, this means I will have to take a semester off to enroll in intensive German courses and then take one year of further preparatory courses.
When I started to contemplate this scenario. I wasn’t so sure I was willing to take a year and a half off school. I mean, I originally wanted to finish by the time I was 22, like a “normal” college student.
I wanted to be working by the time I was 23 like a “normal” young adult.
I wanted to begin my masters by the time I was 26, like a “normal” young woman.
Then, I looked around me and realized that normal was actually just code for
Someone else’s choice.
People all around me are not “normal” because they realized that normal was someones else choice to not understand their free will.
I know people who are 30 and just starting their bachelors, I know people who never got their bachelors and are undoubtedly successful, I know people who finished their degrees in three years and some who finished in six.
Who wants to be normal? Who wants to be someone else’s choice?
Life moves fast, almost too fast. But, it can also move at your own pace. With choice, we are allowed to slow down life or speed it up to what we can handle and what we want.
For me, I realized that my degree would be on pause and I would not be on a “normal” track, but it will be going the way I want.
I have the world to look to for advice and for comfort; everyone does their own way and it all seems to work out.
I read a quote once by John Lennon when I was about 12 years old which has stuck with me till this day:
“Everything will be okay in the end and if it’s not okay then it’s not the end.”
Free will is not control.
Choice is change.
Normal is somone else’s choice.
I will take my free will, to choose and change, knowing that normal can never be the end.