Have you ever stopped and taken the time to look back at all the forks in the road your life has taken? Not just the big choices but the choices which took you on a different path? Recently I’ve reflected on some of these choices in my life and some new and interesting thoughts occurred. Although this is not the first time I’ve thought about the different paths my life could have taken, it is the first I really reflected on the fallacy of a unified self.
When most people look back at our decisions, we lie to ourselves and say “I would still be the same person”. But how can this be? Small decisions our parents made create the foundation for our lives. Where we live, where we go to school, do we attend church or not, who our friends are, down to our taste in music, clothes and food, are all influenced by our parents. Once we begin to make our own decisions, small things to large change the path of our lives irreversibly. Any number of decisions can change where you go to college (or if you go), where you live, who you date, who you choose to spend your life with, having children, etc, etc.
Can we so easily say I would still be the same person even if I lived in a different city, had a different significant other, had a different career path, bosses, or children? The reality is, we are the sum of all decisions and uncontrolled circumstances we have made throughout our lives. Good or bad these decisions have created the current self we know and recognize. Unfortunately, once we overcome the fallacy of a unified self and accept the more quantum view of personal reality, it is all to easy to dwell on our past choices and mistakes. Or try to solely blame our environment growing up and our lives circumstances for our current failings and unhappy environment.
It is important we not overlook the intangible and uncontrolled aspects of our lives that intertwine with our decisions. These have a large influence on the opportunities and choices presented to us during the course of our lives. Yet, those aspects of our lives such as bad schooling, poor nutrition growing up, bad parents etc, are not the end sum of our humanity. In the end, we have to accept responsibility for the decisions we’ve made and will make, and understand we have no control over many portions of life and reality. We cannot change the decisions our parents made or the environment we grew up in, but we can change ourselves and our decisions. Only by learning from past mistakes and successes, not dwelling on who we could’ve or should’ve been, and accepting who we are now, can we overcome our current set of circumstances.
It is my perspective a key part of our human existence is trying to make the most of each day and each choice we make, while also trying to guarantee our human brothers and sisters are provided ample opportunity to make the most of their lives. We grow as individuals by seeking out better life opportunities, not just for ourselves but for those around us. Especially those who are coming from more trying personal realities and are presented with less savory choices to make based on their environments. It is in this way we grow as people and a society. Here’s to my 39th year on the planet, I plan to make the most of each choice that comes my way and hope you can do the same!