Monday, August 04, 2008

Choices

My RSS feed currently looks like a self-help book. Of special note are Mr Wang's recent articles on regrets in choice of education and excerpts from the ever-inspiring Adrian Tan's commencement speech. Then I read Kenneth's entry on honouring hard choices.

I have this to say.

Life is organic. It takes you in directions you never expect to go. All throughout it you will face choices, directions, paths, routes, sidetracks, railroads and all manner of distractions, subtractions, attractions and simple traction.

I think that the classic dichotomy of "the road commonly travelled" and "the road less travelled" is absolute bollocks, for two reasons. First, it presumes you know the difference between the two as clearly as Robert Frost did. The second is that it assumes that life is nothing but a series of mutually exclusive choices.

(In fact, a bit of searching reveals that "The Road Not Taken" has in fact, two interpretations - one classic-inspirational, the second ironic, and cautioning against hindsight, but I digress)

This is my take - recognise that each decision is a sacrifice, a price for which you have no real price tag for until you've paid it. Know that the future is unknowable. Respect that every man has to make that sacrifice, and pity those who don't recognise that.

***********

I don't make it a secret that my reading law was, in fact, not my first choice. Somehow, though, I've made it work - I recognise that it affords me enough financial and social slack that I can pursue things I truly love. It is a price I gladly pay.

On the other hand, I know that because I pay this price, I pay another, which is the price of dabbling. And, yes, I am a dabbler. I've chose not to afford the time commitments to do what Ilkka or Kenneth or Greg does, because there are other things I want done, and because I pay the price for preserving my independence.

I don't strive for greatness, brilliance or to be remembered, respected or honoured in any way. It is something that other people get to confer on me if they choose to. I don't care if I am average, so long as being average is something I've chosen, not fallen into.

So here I am. I'm an average swordsman, an average lawyer, an average son, and probably a rather average writer as well. I'm glad I'm all of those things because I can't imagine me being one at the expense of the other.

Because I am all those things, I cannot imagine why one would be more important than the other.

5 comments:

Topi said...

Well said!

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

"I don't make it a secret that my reading law was, in fact, not my first choice."

May I know what your first choice would be?

Khayce said...

Journalism, which I still pursue in my spare time in the form of my "editorials" and "commentary" on this blog.

The Disappearing Man said...

Now you're making me sound like a monomaniac...! :o

I'm no more than an average swordsman either, if that. I do love what I do, and yes, I've made some sacrifices for it, but in a sense I've never had that much to lose anyway - certainly less than many others.

I wrote what I did in support of a friend who was feeling frustrated, and also because I'm at something of a crossroads myself - yet unable to move on just quite yet. Things need to happen before I can, and it's hard to be patient. Perhaps I expressed myself a bit too strongly, but it's how I feel.

My post was directed not at people's choices, but at their attitude towards the choices of others. And how that makes a hard choice and a high price even more difficult to bear. But even so - bear we must, and shall, for we have to be true to ourselves. In gladio veritas.

Khayce said...

Kenneth,

I encourage a bit of perspective here.

Life, unfortunately, doesn't follow any schedule, or any plan that I can discern. In the absence of that, every choice you make, so long as it is the result of a best guess and good faith, automatically is the best choice you can make at the time.

The problem is that people tend to either overestimate or underestimate the arbitrary nature of making these decisions. In overestimating, they cede the ability to dream and drift. In underestimating, they assume a level of control over life that they simply do not have. Both are bad.

As for your reaction, I think you are perfectly entitled to it. I have a point to make in general about it, which is too long for this comment box. Stay tuned for it.