hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Unbearable Heaviness of Choices

I truly believe that when I look back on this last decade that has been my 20's, I will regard the theme of choices to be the greatest challenge I have had to face. Sure, college repaired me in some ways. Art History or English? Dorm or off-campus group house? Stay out late with my friends or write my 7 page Henry James essay? Go to class or stay in bed all day? Subsist off of burnt brown rice and undercooked lentils at the vegan coop or eat mushy tasteless goop and french fries at the dining hall?

At the time even those choices seemed difficult and now I scoff at my 19-year old self for even dignifying the feeling of doom that they imparted me with. For the curious, my choices regarding those decisions were: Both (Art History minor, English Major); Both and neither (Dorm freshman year, communal coop living sophomore and junior; off campus group house my senior); all too often the former; sadly, all too often the later; the former, but only until second semester senior year, for reasons that you can probably conjure on your own.

But the real choices came calling the second I stepped foot on the plane from Cleveland to San Francisco.

Where to live: San Francisco, Brooklyn (namely Williamsburg, and this was back in '98 when it was still an original idea); or DC.

Where to work: Capitol Hill, non-profits, something corporate?

Again, where to live: Arlington, Alexandria, Maryland or DC?

Quit my heinous non-profit job or stick it out for a promotion?

End this dead-end two-year relationship or stick it out in case it leads to something?

(we see sticking it out emerge as a familiar theme during these years--the eternal tug of war between realism and optimism coming into play)

Go to graduate school?

Research art programs, writing programs, law programs, or policy programs?

Date around, be single, or settle down?

Blog about it or keep it to myself?

Choices, every day.

In the perfect world choices are good. They're part of what define our freedom, the ultimate component of the American dream (Manifest Destiny at all that) being the ability to move around at will and conquer new territory both physical and psychic. The worst however are the ones that involve people besides yourself and learning to appreciate the weight of your choices not only for how the settle on your own shoulders but that of those around you as well.

Choices envelope us like clouds of the smoke from cigarettes that so many of us have yet to kick for good, permeating us and those close to us for ages to come. They effect everything. Where one action takes place an opposing reaction occurs (but can we always see it?)

I think a lot, too much for sure, about the effects of choices--in what way will solution A limit me in the future? What will its consequences be?

To remain optimistic I like to think that things happen for a reason. It's more comforting than accepting the random cruelness and wonderfulness of everything. That the choices I manage to make, when I don't procrastinate, when I manage to empower myself to steer my own course, all lead to something else. It reminds me of a quote that I first learned ages ago, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"Because the soul is progressive, it never quite repeats itself, but in every act attempts the production of a new and fairer whole."

The choices we make are symbolic of this dialectic--change informing change, always towards a better outcome.

How murky it can seem at the time. And how clear it becomes several progressions later. The consequences of your choices don't always produce the fantasies you envisioned, but sometimes they force you (for the better) to take actions you had otherwise been avoiding.

And that is our pop-psychology session for the day. Check in again tomorrow for more Deep Thoughts by Hey Pretty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pretty-
The writing is constantly entertaining and the site meter must be on a steady incline, so why not give the blog a little face lift. Spruce it up and act like the bigshot you've become.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blog-fashonistas have arrived.

- DS

2:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home