I’m sorry I haven’t posted much recently, but I’ve been having to make a lot of decisions about what to do with my time and unfortunately blogging hasn’t been making the cut. Terrible right? Now that I’m back, though, I can’t help wondering about the decisions we make and the importance they have in our lives. Now I’m not going to argue about whether or not there is such a thing as free-will or any of the other philosophical implications that come along with the questioning of decisions, I just want to talk about the small day to day decisions which fill up our lives and make them so exciting.
Most people go through their lives without, or just barely, questioning their decisions. They don’t feel any existential angst because they have filled up their time in such a way that there is no question of whether what they are doing has any meaning. We learn how to act, get an education and then work to make a living almost until we die; all because that is what we believe is expected of us.
Yes most people strive to be happy and make decisions in that direction, but these are almost solely superficial. The great big life altering decisions are usually left to the universe. Where in the world do I want to live? Well that one is usually where you grew up. What do you want to do with your time? Amazingly this one is usually reached by chance without any serious thought, most people tend to fall into their careers. In some rare case the decision is made as a child and then never again questioned (I know I wouldn’t trust me as a child, the sneaky bastard).
What I’m trying to say is that it’s surprisingly hard to change the status quo of your life because in questioning your decisions you question your entire purpose in life. It is amazingly difficult to sit down and ask yourself just what it is that you want to be doing with your life, and whether what you’re doing at the moment really matters. It is really difficult to be truly self-aware. That’s why people so rarely do question their lives.
I didn’t question much for a very long time, except for the occasional bout of existential terror. I went and stayed in school because it was what was expected of me and I went to university because that was the logical next step. What comes next though, I don’t know. I was either blessed or cursed with a course that doesn’t lead to any obvious professions. I ended with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies, Majoring in Psychology, International and Comparative Literature and American Studies. It’s ridiculous right? But what that useless degree has left me with is a terrifying, crushing freedom to choose what I want to do with the rest of my life. I don’t know what to do, but at least I am aware that a decision is looming which will change the course of my life.
Decisions in writing are what drive a plot. The author has to decide what is going to be important in the narrative and every decision the protagonist makes will veer the story in different directions. Therefore to an author it is important to be able to judge the implications and repercussions of each decision made within his imagined universe. Unfortunately in life we don’t have the same god-like ability to look down the road to where each decision will lead. We have to make them (or more often fail to make them) with only a very limited knowledge of what the repercussions will be.
I’m describing all this because I think we need to be more aware of the decisions we make, the big and the small. Even if we don’t know the extent of their ramifications, it’s important to know that they were there and that if they were made differently our lives could have been irrevocably changed. That way, if, in twenty years time, we wake up wondering how in the hell we turned out to be the bitter shell of our former selves, then at least we have some semblance of an answer.