“Choose wisely, my son!”
There is a particularly poignant scene in the third Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where the ancient Knight guarding the Holy Grail (Christ’s drinking cup or chalice) admonishes the Nazi treasure hunter and Indiana Jones to choose wisely.
As you may recall, the Nazi chose a very ornate golden chalice, believing it was “fit for a King”, while Indy chose a simple wooden “carpenter’s cup”!
Life is full of choices, some big, most small. But choices still the same. My tutor used to say that a successful life is nothing more than the culmination of a series of small choices, made daily.
But what guides our choices to be successful or not? To be good choices or mistakes? To be right or wrong for us? A choice is not a role of the dice, take it or leave it. Choices are the result of a mental process that goes on inside of each one of us which guides our behaviour, in this case, the choice we make.
The mental process behind the act of choice is fundamental to our very survival, and also to the quality of our life along the way.
Choices that deal with survival are often clear cut. Not always easy to implement, but we can often see clearly the path for survival. Life and death choices made in the moment are often made instinctively. The human species is hardwired for survival and unless the situation is totally hopeless, we quickly choose the choice with the greatest chance of survival at the moment.
But most choices are not life and death. And most choices are not just right or wrong. A great deal of the choices we have to make as we go through life are choices between two rights! Both have positive outcomes, yet we still have to choose (rarely can we change the situation and have it both ways).
Here is a real life example. My daughter, now 13 and a very accomplished violinist, recently won first prizes for violin concerti (parts of a full concerto) in three separate categories at a music festival near London. Needless to say, she was very happy. As a result of her stunning performance, she has been invited back to play and compete, along with a few winners from the other musical instrument categories. They call it the Stars Festival and Competition, by invitation only. This is a big honor and comes with a cash prize if she wins again.
However, the day of the Stars Competition is also the same day her Russian class in school is having a party with a group of exchange students from Russian who are spending the week with host families. They are going bowling and ice skating, two things that my daughter adores. Both events are the same day and the same time.
Choice time! Both choices have positive outcomes. Recognition and appreciation, as well as publicity for one choice, the fun and learning through socialising with her classmates and getting to know kids from another culture.
In the next blog I will try to articulate the thought process we all go through when faced with these kinds of choices, and choices in general. I believe there is a fundamental principle of life effectiveness at work here that is mostly invisible to us and to better understand this principle may help in making better life decisions.
But, I am curious as to how you, the readers of this blog, would solve this type of dilemma, the choice between two rights for a young 13-year old. What is your advice?
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress