There is always a choice
A couple of days ago as I was headed north on 4th street on my way to work, a bird landed on the road. He was…well, nondescript. Black. Bigger than a sparrow. Smaller than a breadbox. I noticed him because he landed in the middle of the road, out of the way of traffic. He was perfectly safe, but when he saw my car coming towards him, he turned his back to me and began hurrying away, only to realize another car was coming in the other direction.
In the short span of time it took for our cars to pass, that poor little guy spun around two or three times, unsure which way to go and, I’m sure, feeling quite panicked. And then, as if it suddenly occurred to him he had such power, he took a short leap, and was airborne.
I thought about that confused little bird the rest of my drive. The bird thought he was caught between two bad situations—my car, or the car coming the other direction. He did what so many of us do when we are confronted with a choice. We spin this way and that, making ourselves dizzy and usually submitting to whichever choice takes us by the hand first. Or we sit still with our eyes closed, unsure which way to turn until opportunity has passed and we are left exactly where we began.
Think about a single aspect of your life you want to change. Maybe it’s your job or your career or your home. Maybe you want a new car. Or a whole new life. What keeps you from making that change? What choices are presented that keep you like the little bird, spinning in your tracks, unsure which road is the right one? Maybe you feel you have no choice—
“I can’t quit my job. I have a mortgage to make.”
“I can’t pursue songwriting—there’s no time in my day to give it serious attention.”
“I have no choice but to…(fill in the blank)”
Whatever the response, one thing is certain. We always have a choice. Always. It may not be a choice we like, but this does not change the truth. So I ask you again—what keeps you from making the change you crave in your life? What if you DID quit that job? What if you DID choose to pursue your art? What if you DID just one thing that could change your life forever? Maybe your life would crumble in a heap around you. But maybe your life would be filled with a bliss you never even imagined.
Some choices are terrifying. Your parents and your friends warn you not to choose dangerously because they love you so very much and want you to be safe. They, as Ken Robinson says,
“Will collude with you and create a story that is hard to get out of.” *
A story that often begins not with “Once upon a time,” but rather with “I have no choice.” But what say you– will you choose to stay in that safe world, or take a chance on a life you dream of?
I’m not advocating everyone call their boss in the morning and say, “Hey, you know what, I choose to not come in today. Or tomorrow. Or ever again.” Although, I’d love to hear from you if you do. But how about this—make the choice to live life on your own terms. Choose to create a path into the forest of your own existence rather than following the one that has been cut for you. Choose to take small steps to move you from your current path stuck between two racing cars until you come to a point where you realize – or more accurately, remember—you can fly.
Whether you rip your life open or take measured steps, commit to this. Never again allow yourself to say “I have no choice.”
There is always a choice.
* quoted in Finding Joe