Choice Point

In Robert Frost’s seminal poem, “The Road Not Taken,” we are treated to a beautiful lesson about choice points. By using the metaphor of a fork in the road, Frost invites us to see ourselves as travelers journeying along a road. When we come upon an intersection, we must decide which path suits us better. In other words, we must make a choice.

Life is filled with choices. Every single moment of every day presents us with a unique opportunity to make a choice, to declare our intent, to assert our identity. In the 1989 film, The Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character, Mr. Keating, delivers a masterclass in choice. Although he is actively teaching about conformity when he instructs the students to march in cadence around the courtyard before encouraging them to find their own walk, in reality, he is encouraging them to understand that they always have choices. Only one student, Charlie Dalton, recognizes this and decides not to participate, choosing instead to lean against the column. When questioned by Keating, he states, that he is “exercising his right not to walk.”

How often do we find ourselves in situations like this? Presented with a seemingly finite set of choice points—walk in cadence or walk your own way? What about the other choice points?

The last two years have brought startling clarity to this understanding. The entire population is being encouraged to make significant choices. From the moment, word spread about a pathogen, we started to see a series of choice points emerge about masks, lockdowns, treatments, and so much more. These choices go far beyond the simplistic presentation offered by media types. It’s not really a question of one’s political or religious beliefs, or whether one trusts an “authority” or not. There’s a sense that something much larger is at stake.

But, instead of maybe delving into what that larger issue could be, we’ve all been encouraged to solidify our choice points into designated divisions. Fraternization is increasingly discouraged. Those people over there are anathema sit. Stay away! Beware! Few wonder why such atomization is encouraged and who benefits from such. Keep in your little quadrants and pigeonhole yourselves into nice, neat little boxes, and no matter what you do, “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

But is that the only option? To pick a side, adorn it with fast, easy slogans or catchy memes and that’s that. That path “forever will it dominate your destiny,” as Yoda says. Maybe. Some choices do seem to have a finality to them. Choosing a path which leads to the direct death of the physical body is pretty absolute.

But, short of that, every choice leads to another choice which leads to another choice and the truth is that despite slick marketing, endless propaganda, peer pressure, preconceived notions, and collective beliefs, every single moment of every single day, we are faced with so many choice points. We get to decide.

We can eat an entire bag of potato chips, drink ourselves into oblivion, or binge watch a series. We can run a marathon, write a poem, or sing in the shower. We can pick fights, connive and cajole, or devastate and destroy. We can smile, laugh, love, share, respect, and spread joy. Endless choices. Endless opportunities. No matter what happens, remember that you always, always have a choice.

Published by Krista S.

Lifelong lover of books and music. Dedicated to sharing and mentoring.

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