Nothing pushes at the boundaries of a life quite like having to make a choice:

Be or do?

Now or later?

Coffee or tea?

Give or take?

Open or closed?

Endless list, really. I put it together top of mind but as I did, it occurred to me that it looks more like a list of extremes, of contrasts, of opposites.

A choice leads to a decision that leads to an action that leads to another choice.

Maze or labyrinth?

Fork in the road: left or right?

The polarization of choices works well as a literary device to challenge the characters, or as options in battery of tests that smiling HR types administer to declare you a Dominant Conscientious, Green, Blue, INTP or sometimes an ENFJ. It works for advertisers and by-law officers too but I have to wonder if it’s working for us these days.

I suppose there’s an inherent elegance to a binary approach to life, a simplicity of sorts when everything is reduced to Either/Or. Allows us to create boxes. Project plans. Computer programs. Neat categories. Colour within the lines. Exclude some but take in others. Accept or reject.

Yet, we don’t quite trust open or closed, do we? We say, one door closes but another one opens. Or if not a door, then maybe a window.

Each choice, each decision is a declaration, a belief system enacted.

Fate/free will.

We don’t like it when a choice is taken away. And overchoice is a serious problem.

Choices run alongside you, an invisible slipstream to take you away. Or they silently slide into the seat next to you linking fingers with you, claiming you forever. Or they pop colourfully in front of you like a Snakes and Ladders game board, or perhaps stumble in out of nowhere and become Point Zero, dramatically changing everything ever after; big bang choice and a new world.

Win/lose. Us/them.

I am not entirely convinced that extremes of anything is a good thing. And as I thought about the ingrained binary way of choice, I wondered about the third, fourth and fifth way, because there are, short of a cataclysmic barrier, ALWAYS more than two choices, routes other than a ladder or a snake. It’s a risk though, leaving the comfort of extremism, leaving the binary world, happy to be neither right or wrong, but curious instead and willing to get to a different place, above and outside of self/ish and onto an entirely different game board, different boundaries, different game, different life.


About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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One Response to Choices

  1. scimmia says:

    And I thought snakes and ladders was just a game for kids. But seriously, even choosing what to say here meant making several choices: comment, yes or no…witty or serious…tongue in cheek or feet on the ground…become visible or lurk longer…. hmmmm…choices

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