Choices

Choices. It was always choices…

There’d been that man down in Spackle, the one that’d killed those little kids. The people’d sent for her and she’d looked at him and seen the guilt writhing in his head like a red worm, and then she’d taken them to his farm and showed them where to dig, and he’d thrown himself down and asked her for mercy, because he said he’d been drunk and it’d all been done in alcohol.

Her words came back to her. She’d said, in sobriety: end it in hemp.

And they’d dragged him off and hanged him in a hempen rope and she’d gone to watch because she owed him that much, and he’d cursed, which was unfair because hanging is a clean death, or at least cleaner than the one he’d have got if the villagers had dared defy her, and she’d seen the shadow of Death come for him, and then behind Death came the smaller, brighter figures, and then-

In the darkness, the rocking chair creaked as it thundered back and forth.

The villagers had said justice had been done, and she’d lost patience and told them to go home, then, and pray to whatever gods they believed in that it was never done to them. The smug mask of virtue triumphant could be almost as horrible as the face of wickedness revealed.

“Carpe Jugulum”, Terry Pratchett

*

Making choices, especially ones that concern other people, is often difficult. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to chew off your own leg than to figure out which one of the available options is the lesser evil. And sometimes you just need to make out whether your struggles stem from your reluctance towards change or if the situation really is that complicated.

Changes can be uncomfortable indeed but can also bring about many wonderful things. Or it could all go to pot, of course, but if you don’t try, you’ll never find out. I’ve learned the hard way that the things I regret the most are things I could have done but did not do at the time, whether out of fear for the unknown future or because I was simply too comfy in my bubble.

A couple of years ago I realized that right now is the time in my life when I can still afford to make mistakes but I know better already than to make the really dumb ones over and over again. I reviewed my life – which was not in a very good place at that moment – and it dawned on me that if I don’t start taking leaps into the unknown, nothing is ever going to get better. Stepping out of my comfort zone seemed pretty scary, even though I was not actually happy with the way things were. I promised myself that even if my first reaction was “oh gods, no”, I would still give it a go when new perspectives/people/options popped up on my path. After a while it became a bit of a habit and now I have a job I love and also the luxury of spending evenings at a home where nobody is constantly sawing on my nerves.

Making choices for other people rarely ends well, however. This entails phrases like “you’re better off without me” or “you deserve better”. I’d rather be the one to make that choice, thankyouverymuch. Unless you’re Granny Weatherwax (see quote above), you don’t really know what is best for others. It is difficult enough to distinguish between “I want” and “I need” when the only person concerned is you but trying to convince others that you know what they need is basically asking for a slap in the face. The only thing you can do is give your opinion on the matter, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Although every now and again I have a very hard time suppressing the urge of trying to influence people so that they would make their choices based on what I want… The measure of failure to muffle this wish is directly correlated to how much I desire the outcome.

And then again, sometimes people actually want you to make their decisions for them. Maybe they are just too cowardly for deep introspection, maybe they’re simply so lost in all the pros and cons that they honestly cannot make head nor tail of it any more, maybe they just want someone else to blame later… In any case, it is a slippery slope and more often than not ends in tears for at least one person involved.

I know I often make my own life more difficult than it could be but it is my choice, goddamnit! I take responsibility for my decisions and know that if things go wrong, I only have myself to blame. The hardest bit is admitting to yourself that the choice you made was wrong but once you’ve gotten past that point, there’s still hope yet. Sometimes the harm can be rectified, other times you just need to learn from it so you’d know better next time.

Categories: borrowed feathers, internal inspection | Leave a comment

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