Choices, Consequences & Responsibilities

It is said that life is about the choices one makes, the consequences of those choices and the willingness to accept the responsibility for those consequences. Most of us at one time or another shirk those responsibilities and put the blame onto another person.

For me, in my childhood, I learnt very quickly that when I made a choice, any choice, someone else said I was wrong. This wrongness definition came from my parents, siblings and peers both at school and later as an adult, my work colleagues. It became clear to me that I had to let other people make the choices for me because in that way I could never be wrong.

It is a strange thing but I realised that, if I abdicated my choices, I could relinquish the other two. Life for me then was learning to make no choices and thus I could ignore the potential consequences and the responsibilities. I allowed then, other people to make all my choices for me. This was the easy way out and I survived the journey in this way for many decades.

As it turns out, I could not have been more wrong.

Life though, has a way of catching up with you. Making choices is the only way one can learn to correct them next time. Letting others make those choices short-circuits the learning process which severely hinders your evolution as a human being. How can one evolve if nothing ever goes wrong? How can one grow if all the time you ask permission from others? If one deliberates fully before taking a step, you will spend life on one leg.

We grow because of the mistakes we make in life. Mistakes are the dark side of our existence for without them life would be very bland, uninteresting and shallow and would we really become something different to that we are now without that shadow constantly eclipsing our journey?

I managed to forget life for decades living a life that was not my own, a life that was dictated by those around me. My life, my shadow, caught me in 1994 when I attended four funerals and a wedding, was made redundant after 20 years in the same job and my wife left to live with another. All in the very short space of 7 months.

That year was painful in the extreme simply because I was unprepared and ill-equipped for the onslaught of trauma and suffering that came very quickly bubbling to the surface from all those unmade choices. I simply had no experience of how to deal with these events. It wasn’t though just a grey overshadow but a dark night of the soul, a night that was destined to become years.

It is said that we journey until the pain of where we are exceeds the pain of the unknown should we break the shell of the chrysalis. My life was pain, pain and yet more pain. If all you experience is pain, it eventually becomes comfortable and familiar. You don’t want to rock the boat by climbing out so you stay in that vessel that has become your life’s liner. The external events of 1994 became the iceberg that my liner struck and I began to sink. I floated in the ocean of the unknown for months grasping at the remains of the chrysalis that used to be my only protection.

1994 was a really strange year because it became the cause of my undoing but also became my Phoenix as I grasped at the opportunity to rebuild out of those ashes created by my destruction. The fight had gone, the anger had gone and something new took its place.

This was a new vision of me going through instead of around. Before, I had fought against choices and problems wanting only to ignore them. After that point, everything was up for grabs, all my fears and doubts. All my problems and struggles vanished as I looked headlong into all that I was scared of. The box I had carried for decades containing those fears was opened and everything came pouring out. By looking, they vanish, by looking, they evaporate into insignificance.

Was I scared? Yes, absolutely. But I looked and witnessed the destruction of my fears as they passed through me on their own journey to oblivion. I had to feel the pain, the terror that was compressed into that box, the pain that I had stuffed into that box.

This though was my choice.

So, we all make choices, we all have consequences and we all have responsibilities. It doesn’t matter if you try to abdicate them to someone else. Eventually, those choices will arrive at your doorstep for you to deal with. The experience I went through in 1994 showed me that it is far better to let the choices happen like a dripping tap rather than allow them to build so they explode like a volcano.

This though was my choice.