I was on the phone with a friend the other day, you know, talking, as one does. And they asked me for advice. The thing that most people seek on a daily basis to reaffirm their world view, give them comfort and assure them that they're on the right path. Advice...from me?
I'm not really one to give advice, more of one to take it. Or...screw up so badly that I have no recourse but to reflect, and inflict wisdom on others by accident. By accident.
Anyway, they were asking how to move forward in their life and their career. Two things I seem to be doing by mistake.
I sat there and thought for a while, about what the real root for my constant forward motion was...then it dawned on me..."Well, " I said into the phone, "I had no other choice."
I was met with silence, no early twenty-something could possibly think about odd existential crises as much as me, so I was forced to explain.
"Okay, it's just that...I gave myself no other choice."
That's more like it. I never allowed myself rest, or relaxation. I haven't been all that happy, but I haven't given up yet. For some reason, I keep moving.
"You see, when you don't choose, you cease to move forward. It's all about making the conscious effort, every single day to move on."
More silence. Silence makes me more nervous than anything. Because in silence, you can really hear your thoughts.
"Okay, let me put it this way: you're standing at a fork in the road. Yeah, I know it's old school, but just hear me out. You're standing at a fork in the road. The paths to the right and the left seem identical as far as you can see. So you just panic. And you sit down. You never end up choosing what to do...and then all of the sudden, you're stuck. In the road. Waiting. Constantly waiting for something to happen. For someone to come along on your journey and say, 'Hey dude! Here's what you should do!' Isn't that what you're asking me right now?"
I heard a sigh...as if something in that jumbled mess connected, "Yeah. You know. I guess that's what I'm asking you right now."
"Right. Now. You have a choice. Not two choices, not three. One. Choice.
You have to decide to choose. What that choice is, is not important. You can't live your life with the fear of choosing constantly weighing you down. Everything is a constant stream of choices. What you wear, what you eat, what you drive, what you do. Choice. Choice is the key to moving forward. Procrastination is exciting and all...it gives you that energy, that high from being on the edge...but it can never give you fulfillment. Not like the choice to live."
And then, as if touched by an angel, they said, "OKAY. OKAY. I think I get it now."
"Wait...why do you get it?" I asked.
And the phone made that awful beeping noise that smartphones make. As if to signal you that the person on the other side is, well, done with you.
I sat in silence for a few minutes, waiting for some kind of happiness to flood my brain. You know, as it does after you help someone you care for.
But it never came. Because I know that choosing is the hardest thing you can do in your life. To choose whether to let your dreams die and live an ordinary life, or continue on the harsh path to righteousness? Enlightenment? Happiness?
Can happiness be achieved if you're not doing everything exactly how you want to?
I'm not sure. But as this phone shakes in my hand, warranting a call back to that friend, I sit. Not being able to choose if I need someone to talk to or not. Not being able to choose whether to give up myself, or to keep going.
I have to choose whether to continue to live steadily or fall off the rails. I know where both of those things lie in me. I have to restrain myself. I have to make the right choice.
I have to choose between mulling these thoughts over until the wee hours of the morning, ruining my working day and the rest of the week, or sleep. The age old remedy for all of life's problems.
I put down the phone. Choosing to offer myself up to stony sleep. The right choice.