Where we are, what we do, how we do it, even what we have for breakfast and practically everything else we do or don’t do are the result of our own choices.
Every decision has ongoing consequences for ourselves and others. Even deciding not to choose is a decision. Those who take this passive course of inaction must rely on the decisions of others who on your behalf will choose the road to success and happiness or to misery and failure while you just tag along for the ride.
An addiction is the result of a past decision that has ceased being a choice and has instead grown into a compulsive habit.
About a year ago I decided to confront an addiction that I was repeatedly told would at worst kill me or at least make my life less than it could or should be. This addiction cost me lots of money, and what is worse only a minute percentage of that money went to those who manufactured the product. However the primary motivation was that cigarette smoking had become an addiction, and an extremely silly one at that.
The process of quitting made me realise that I am much better at doing things than at not doing things. How hard could it be to not do something that is bad for you and costs a fortune? Pretty hard as it turns out. I tried to recall what made me choose to start doing it in the first place. I was young, no excuse. Many of my friends did it, even less excuse. My advice to the young (for wisdom is not always the perquisite of years): If most people are doing it, don’t touch it, it is unlikely to do you any good.
Yet smoking is but a minor detail in the rich tapestry of life. There are much more important decisions than whether to inhale tobacco smoke. Some decisions and subsequent addictions can destroy not just the body but also the soul of a man.
Some meander down the pathway of life, stargazers preoccupied with elsewhere and forever banging into lampposts. Some scurry about like starved mice exploring every byway and hedgerow in search of pleasure or profit, frustrated that there are simply too many roads to explore in a mouse’s lifetime
There are the plodders and foot draggers, downcast and dawdling, scanning the pavement for pennies and a purpose. The more enthusiastic jog along and sometimes do a few press ups on the corners while deciding which way to go. Still others, purpose and path clearly defined, stride relentlessly on without deviation, eyes fixed firmly on the horizon.
Different and diverse are the pilgrims on this journey but no matter what our approach, we will encounter many crossroads, T-junctions and intersections, not to mention more than a few roundabouts. How do we decide which way to go?
Something common to the good, the bad and the ugly is that we have all made choices. The gift of hindsight reveals a mix of good, not so good, and absolutely terrible ones. There is no-one here today who has not at some stage made a fools choice.
There are lots of excuses and we have all at some point been sold a golden goose only to find out later it was actually a lame duck. Many insist that at the end of the day, moving forward it’s all a pig in a poke.
I’m a staunch defender of democracy but as democratically elected former US President Abe Lincoln once said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time…” Those that are always fooled can be a majority in some places. I sincerely hope New Zealand isn’t one of them. I think it’s a shame that so many are trying so hard to fool us in the first place. But then I’m old fashioned that way.
The trick therefore must be, before making decisions obtain as much knowledge as possible gleaned only from trustworthy sources and as far as possible basing choices on understanding. Without good directions or a map no one would reasonably expect to arrive at a desired destination. Where you are now is a result of all your past decisions and indecisions. Is it where you want to be? And where is it that you want to go? The choice is yours – what will you decide?
"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
-- Abraham Lincoln