Choice. Do we have it? Do we want it?
This morning, D had to leave home early and I chose not to get up early, too, and join him for breakfast. For my lone breakfast, I chose not to have my usual toast and coffee, and just to have muesli. Later, feeling cold as I sat at my computer, I chose to go outside and sit in the warm sun. I could have chosen to put on more clothes to get warm, but I didn’t. Even when the sun hid behind a cloud and I felt cold again, I chose to wait for it to come out again and warm me up.
Life is a series of choices, some harder to make than others. I often find it harder to make choices than I ought to because, subconsciously, I start to wonder what’s expected of me, or what a normal choice might be, or what someone else would like me to choose, rather than simply what I want. I couldn’t have said at the time, for instance, why I hesitated so much when someone said, “Breakfast will be later; do you want a cup of coffee now?” Later, I worked out why. It was because I was thinking: No, I don’t want coffee but am I expected to want coffee? Would it be the normal thing to want coffee before breakfast?
I was just pondering this thing called choice today when I read David Rory O’Neill’s current blog post, in which he asks, “Why do people choose to live here?” He’s talking about New York, a place that’s fascinating to visit but wouldn’t be my first choice of a home town either. In fact, I remember wondering the same thing decades ago when I visited New York in the middle of winter at -19°C. Fortunately, we’re not all the same and a lot of people choose to live in New York – otherwise it wouldn’t be there to visit.
Choosing where to live is usually a big decision. I made that choice long ago and am very pleased with what I decided. I also chose whom to marry and, as we’ve been together for donkey’s years and still get on well, that was definitely a good choice.
I’ve made bad choices, too, including one that I believe led to me getting social anxiety. But I want to stress that I didn’t know one would lead to the other. In fact, as I’ve said before and will say again:
No one chooses to have social anxiety.
Today I also discovered the lyrics of a song I’ve probably never heard: Freedom Of Choice by Devo. The song ends:
Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom from choice
Is what you want
Do you want freedom from choice? Do I? Do we? I wonder.