Choose

On August 18, 2002, I wrote:

There’s a Walmart commercial in current circulation that’s trying to bring in the younger crowd. It starts with a teen saying something like, “Being a teenager is one step closer to total freedom.” Little does he know that being a teen is the most free time we have. Sure you can do more as an adult, but the added responsibilities seem to make sure that doesn’t happen. The kicker is that I understand what the teen is saying as I thought exactly the same thing at that age.

Although this was seven years ago, I still remember the ad and think of it from time to time.

For a time, today, my Facebook status was, “Rick, thy name is turmoil.” I remembered the teen from the ad, and it occurred to me that the types of decisions a teenager is presented with are somewhat different than those an adult has to make. With the huge exception of what direction their education should take, it seems to me that impulse-control figures more prominently in the dilemmas teens face. There usually is a clearly correct answer, but will it be the answer the teen chooses?

Adults, on the other hand, seem to run into far more problems in which the correct answer is not so obvious, assuming there even is a correct answer.

When I was young and new to the working world, I couldn’t wait to grow up and get a ‘real job.’ Surely, in large companies are serious businesses, everyone would have the skills to do their jobs and they’d work together like a well-oiled machine to get everything done well and in a timely manner. I had many other similar expectations that I quickly learned couldn’t be much further from the way things really work.

Much of these incredibly wrong expectations were a result of my being unable to understand the complexity of the adult world. I think the wish of many parents to let their children be children is also a factor, but I believe parents are doing the right thing in shielding their children from much of the turmoil, uncertainty, and ugliness of the world.

It does make for a series of surprising, disappointing, and difficult lessons when we get ready to make our own way in the world, but we’re far better equipped to deal with those lessons when we’re older.

So the world is a flawed and indifferent place. What do we do? I figure that there are but two choices. We can let it drag us down, or set our sights higher and pull it up with us. People are complex and self-contradictory. People are emotional and irrational. Although we have two choices, we’ll vacillate between them. All we can do is try to focus on the more positive choice. Consciously making this decision throughout the day does indeed make a difference. All we can do is try, and build ourselves a support system. We gather around ourselves the people we love, and make a life. It’s what people have always done. Find someone who wants the same kind of life you do, and make that life together.

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that you see what you want to see. If you fixate on the ugliness of life, you’ll find no end of ugliness. You’ll be miserable if you don’t learn to let that shit go.

The guy who cut you off during your drive home is an ass. You know it, so don’t let yourself get really upset. If you let him bother you even after you get home, you’re giving him control over you. You’re allowing him to put you into a bad mood that will sour your evening and affect those around you. Is this what you want? If course not. Remember, he’s an ass. If you feel anything toward him, it should be pity.

You can’t fix it all, but you can make your little corner of life a nice place. You just have to want to, and then take steps to make it happen. I think I can speak for most people when I say that I’d much rather use my energy and effort on those people I love rather than the guy who cut me off. So why don’t we?

There is such beauty and love around us. We just need to be willing to see it and finally accept it. Let go of the rest and move on. There road ahead is bright with flashes of brilliance.

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