Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hard choices

The first thing to notice is that hard choices remain hard choices. They do not stop being hard because you have experience or because you have a model for decision making or even because you are confident that you know the "right" thing to do. Some choices are hard: hard to make and sometimes also hard to live out after they are made.

Hard things shape us, define our edges, roughen or polish our surfaces. Hard choices change the way we think. Whatever comes after a hard choice is shaped by the experience of having made it.

Running away from a hard choice is simply a way of tricking yourself into making the choice. You think, "if I keep busy enough, this choice will pass" or "if I refuse to make a choice, someone else will make it for me." It is true: situations change over time, with or without our intervention. It is also true that once something comes into our awareness as a choice, we know that doing nothing is also a choice - it is a choice to let the situation play out and shape our edges, to accept chance rather than choice as the sculptor that shapes us.

There is no universal answer - that's what makes the choices hard. Sometimes it is best to wait, sometimes to act quickly; sometimes to act, sometimes to refrain from acting.

There is a universal question: who do you want to be after the choice is made?

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