You called me selfish when I left,
Crying that you would be all alone.
But I turned and said as I walked out the door,
You can choose to be alone
or you can choose to be free.
We make choices every day that influence and impact the rest of our lives. Many of us make choices based on fear, even when we haven’t the slightest clue that we’re doing so. How will you ever know, then, how to change your life?
People have become accustomed to what I call “The 22 Minute Solution.” So much of our world is based on pop culture and media, and we willingly fall prey to their insidious influences. We’re bombarded with messages, both overt and subliminal that we’re not good enough, we’re ugly, we will fail, we will die alone, our clothes aren’t bright enough, nor are our teeth, and unless we drive this brand of car or buy that type of home, we will never. Ever. Measure up. We go through each day, functioning on autopilot, so infrequently being PRESENT in our own lives. We function on the barest levels of consciousness, leaving ourselves vulnerable to the barrage of stuff that permeates our existence. We watch programs on television in which they find a problem, and then solve that problem…typically in 22 minutes or less. And we have come to expect that life can be lived the same way.
We zip through days and weeks and months like a stone across the surface of a lake, and only when we finally run out of momentum do we lie down and call ourselves dead.
How many times have you arrived home after work, not remembering the drive home? Did that experience frighten you? Perhaps, but within a few moments, we’re on to something else, shoving that little blip in the matrix out of our minds.
“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
We have become a society of blue pill takers. We choose that because reality is often difficult and not easily controlled, so we become complacent and lazy. We would rather not know how deep the rabbit hole goes. So we choose. And we make the same choices day in and day out until the end of our days.
When do we choose differently? How far along the thin, fragile thread of our lives do we have to be before waking up?
We have all fallen prey to it. We choose to be victimized, we choose to allow our feelings to be hurt, we choose to get angry because someone cut us off on the freeway. When we begin actively choosing, we begin to become more aware. And that awareness begets deeper awareness, and — if we let ourselves — we see things we never imagined before. We begin to see how much of our lives are lived for us rather than by us. Somewhere, we chose to allow life to dictate everything that would happen.
What would it look like if, tomorrow morning, you awoke in your bed and, rather than getting up immediately to get your day started, you decided to consider what your day might look like instead? Will you choose to be happy? Sad? Angry? Stressed out?
We all have the capability of changing ourselves in order to better live our lives. Yes, even those who become physically ill with a terminal disease, or get blindsided by a mental illness. With every step, we choose how the world will affect us.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD, I could have chosen to lie down and feel victimized. I didn’t ask for it, did I? No. So why me? However, even in extreme cases we have choices. Mine was: do I work as hard as I can to get better, or do I allow this stigmatization to define me?
I chose the former over the latter, even knowing how difficult it might be. But the results have put me in a continual state of awe over what I failed to see around me. Sometimes it’s hard to make a choice. Our illness, or our addiction seems to pull the strings in the puppet show we find ourselves in. Yet….
We can choose to seek help because we know we can’t do it ourselves. Rather than giving in, we find a way out.
It has taken me more than fifteen years to figure this out. And I didn’t do it on my own. Many were the long, cold nights in which I wanted only to die. We will always have moments of weakness. Yet we can choose to allow that one slip up to overwhelm us and give up, or we can get back up, dust ourselves off, and keep going. If living really means something, then we find a way. It could be for your cat, or your pet goldfish….but eventually, it will be for you. You choose you. And in that way do we win our lives back.