WordPress has an interesting feature called writing helper that “randomly” generates a quote, a topic, or photo to inspire a blog topic. I tried it and got the following:
Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Now forget the song, and turn that line into the title or inspiration for your post.
Ok. For me that would be: “If you choose not to decide to decide you still have made a choice.”
The above quote comes from the song Freewill by Rush (second track of the album, Permanent Waves, 1980). The song’s subject is about freewill; how it is not a gift, but rather a choice. What resonates with me is the fact that every day you and I are faced with many choices. Should we do this, or should we do that? Often times, we try to evade the burden of choice, put off our decision for fear of making the wrong choice. However, avoidance is itself a choice.
I often hear people complain about how their lives didn’t turn out how they planned. If only they would have gone to college right after high school, delayed getting married until they were older/more mature, or born into money, how their lives would be different or better. Perhaps. However, those choices are in the past; opportunities gone. Often, people forget that in the here and now are choices to be made to forge a better life.
To show you that I am not just talking out of my arse, I am going to share a personal experience. This happened about 16 years ago: I was freshly divorced; my career in radio hit a wall; I was in poverty (I do not recommend being poor, it really does suck). I had been contemplating a career change but a change to what? I had been spending my free time teaching myself computer programming; the Internet was new and fascinating to me. I could literally spend hours on my computer and thought if there were a way to do this for a living, I think I wouldn’t mind that. The problem was that I had no college degree. I graduated from high school years ago; I would need an education but the thought of college scared me. I was in my mid-thirties; I would be in classrooms of freshly graduated high school students and twenty-somethings.* Talk about a feeling old. Compound that with the thoughts of how I would be 40 when I graduated and that I would be starting a new career — in my forties! These thoughts paralyzed me into inaction.
A few days later during a jog, I was listening to the radio and ironically, the song playing was Rush’s “Freewill.” Halfway through the song came a voice; it said, “Eric, gods willing, you are going to be 40 no matter what you do. Would it not be better to be a 40 year old with a college degree than a 40 year old with out one?” Case closed. I ran back home and began the application process. Several months later, I embarked on one of the greatest experiences in my life: being a university student and it changed my life. I am so glad I chose to do it.
The most powerful weapon is choice; the second most powerful weapon is an educated mind. Make the smart investment in yourself. Choose to decide. It will be the right choice.
* This is not meant to be a slam on young people. It turns out that being the oldest guy in the classroom wasn’t as scary as I imagined it would be. These students welcomed me in their study groups and I learned lots from them. I was impressed at their discipline and dedication. I wished I had that kind of discipline when I was their age. I should have made a wiser choice when I had the chance.