Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reflections on Life

[Johnathan Clayborn]

Life is confusing. Life is hard sometimes. Life isn't any one thing, but rather is a series of interconnected choices, chances, and events that are woven together to build our experience. You can plan things out all that you want. You can go into situations with the purest of intentions. You may even think to yourself that you have it all figured out, and you understand how life works. But, every so often, life serves up some curveballs, poignant reminders that you have absolutely no idea what you are doing after all. And every so often, those curveballs are game-changers in the sense that the experiences that bring about, good, bad, or both, will irrevocably change you from the person that you were into someone else and that person that you were ceases to be.

Sometimes something happens that makes you reevaluate life and you realize that it's not worth it be serious and you might become more child-like. I've seen this happen with older people and some people who are terminally ill. Other times, something happens that makes you jaded, or it kills off part of your soul so that the world seems less colorful, less beautiful, darker. And still other times things happen that make you less child-like and force you to grow up and face some harsh realities. Sometimes it's more than one of these things.

Much of your life is dictacted by your own choices; do I go right or left, do I take a new job or stay where I am, do I finish school or take a second job, do I wear the blue tie or the black one? Very often though other people's choices intersect with your life in irreversable ways. Maybe someone decided not to have their brakes changed and as a result they crashed into your car and left you disabled. Or maybe someone from your life that you were connected to just up and leaves with little notice and without explanation. Sometimes people decide to quit their job and it creates a new position that you can move into. There are lots of ways that other people's choices interact with our lives. Often times we describe these things as chance, but it's not really chance. Chance would be calculating your odds of being in the right place at the right time for an event to occur, not the actual choices themselves, although the choices do play a role in those calculations.

Decisions that we make on our own are the easiest to deal with, sometimes, because we made those choices; we have control over them. I say sometimes because sometimes the choices that we make aren't the ones that we really want to make and the end result that we get from those choices is actually the furthest thing from what we want in life. Other times, someone else makes those choices for us; someone leaves, a parent decides to move, your work closes its doors, etc. Those choices are especially hard to deal with because its not really your choice. You have no control over those situations. The situations are what they are because other people exercised their power to make decisions and choices.

The real trick to life is figuring out the difference between the choices that you make you and the choices that someone else makes. Understanding this difference will allow you to understand what choices you actually have control over. You can't decide to tell your employer to stay open, you can't decide to tell your parent not to move, and you certainly can't decide to make people that you care about stay in your life. The only decisions that you have control over are how you handle those game-changing occurences. Do you let them break you, grind on you, wear you out until there's nothing left, or do you rise up to meet them and accept that you have no control over them? Once you figure out which things you actually do have control over, you'll be in a much better position to actually change your life for the better because you can decide to change the things that you don't like.

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