Every day, we make choices. We make them based on the best knowledge we have at the time, based on the feelings in our hearts at a particular juncture, based on how we expect our lives to turn out. But life never – or, rarely – turns out the way you plan it, and so sometimes our choices turn out to be unexpectedly fantastic, and other times unimaginably bad. But still, we make them, because we must.
I don’t like to think I am my choices. I would rather think I shape my life than the other way around; I tell myself that I am in control. But is this true? Does a choice made in sorrow by a version of myself that I no longer recognise still hold sway over me to this day? A choice that had to be made – which was, despite everything, the best choice for its own, or any, moment – and which, in so many ways, was not a choice at all because its alternative was unthinkable. A choice that should have left no questions in its wake.
Faced with it right now, this moment, would I make the same decision? A million times, yes.
All the same, a strange dislocation occurs when you’re faced with your life the way it could have been, had you chosen differently. A doubling, a dizzying sense of unreality. An uncomfortable, sickening and vertiginous feeling. Even if you know the choices you made were right, still the call of the unwalked path is strong, for just that moment, that one window into an unlived life. Perhaps it shouldn’t be this way: there is no point to wondering ‘what if?’ And yet, it happens.
Are there multitudes of worlds in which versions of you are living the lives you could have had, each of them gazing up at their particular stars and dreaming about living the life you have? Perhaps. The life you have is a wished-for ideal, and it is good to remember that.
Maybe we fool ourselves that our choices mean anything at all. Perhaps there is only one way that things could ever be, and no matter what we choose we cannot escape it. Perhaps, in its own dark way, this is comforting. It may even be true that there is no such thing as ‘choosing wisely’; all we can do is do the best we can, given our particular circumstances in any given moment. The important thing is to choose, and not to regret – to trust yourself to make a choice and stick with it, and move on without looking back.
You know something?Maybe I should have slept a little better last night, so that I wouldn’t have woken up with a head full of fuzz this morning.
Go forth and grab Tuesday by the lapels, my friends, while I wait for my brain to re-engage.