Life is filled with choices. Big ones, little ones, simple ones, and an occasional downright difficult dilemma.
“There are always choices in life,” Amanda Phillips tells hero Joshua Barron in Not the Marrying Kind, and she’s right. Every day we’re faced with choices from the time we wake up until we climb back into bed and pull up the covers.
Choice is a key element in fiction, of course, and it’s through choice that character is revealed. We authors strive to create challenging situations for our characters, forcing them to make tough choices and painful decisions. It’s how we test them, how we encourage them to grow, to change, and to become worthy of love.
When we face decisions, how do we know what the right choice is?
I’ve been pondering this question lately as I work on the fourth book of “The Sunset Series”. It’s a story about choices and consequences, a story about mistakes and lost opportunities. As part of my research while writing, I began browsing quotations about choices — and also about the regrets that sometimes follow.
I came across this one:
The obvious choice is usually a quick regret.
It surprised me because it seemed to go against conventional wisdom. Choices, after all, involve right and wrong, and as often as not, we do know the difference, don’t we? Most situations we face can be viewed from a logical perspective and the correct choice easily determined. Countless self-help books and articles can guide us through the decision-making process with easy-to-follow instructions about finding the pro and con in each alternative and weighing them in the balance.
You know…that’s never really worked for me. Writing down all those good points and not-so-good points leaves me confused. It’s impossible to compare one benefit to another and to accurately determine if what’s gained truly outweighs what might be lost. So much involves speculation. We can never say with certainty what the outcome of a choice will be.
Still, the logical side of my brain insists that logical choices — obvious choices about what’s right and what’s wrong — should be the best.
Life experience has proved otherwise.
As I sit here and look back over the choices and decisions I’ve made, I can clearly see that the best choices — the ones that have given meaning and direction to my life — were the ones that were neither obvious nor logical. They were choices that came from my heart, and no matter how absurd, how illogical, how unwise…they worked. They were the right choices for me.
When I came across that saying about obvious choices bringing quick regrets, I thought again about decisions I’ve made. Sure enough, the times I regret are those when I listened to logic, did what was expected, and essentially, played it safe.
Sages have taught that the great choice in life is one between love and fear. Too often fear can hold us back. It limits us to obvious choices. Choosing love requires courage — the courage to move beyond the obvious, the courage to be different, the courage to express who we truly are.
Here’s wishing you a year filled with love
and with the courage to overcome all fears.