“There is no right or wrong decision…just a different set of opportunities depending upon the one you make!” – text from a friend.
Several months ago I was faced with making a decision between two distinct options. The details of one choice were laid out in front of me and I knew exactly how it would play out. Exactly. The other choice was much more nebulous, at best. In fact, I would be taking a leap of faith with no guaranteed results. As far as I can recall, this was the only time in my life that I’ve been faced with such a decision. It’s always been a choice between two (or more options) with no guarantees or with many moving parts: what city to move to after college, which job to choose, etc. Without being privy to the lives I may have led in the alternative dimensions in which I chose to live in San Francisco or Portland, instead of Seattle, I’ve never been able to weigh outcomes against each other.
Making decisions over the course of my life has involved a mix of analyzing information, weighing past experiences (if applicable), listening to my gut, and usually a little bit of “fuck it” mentality for good measure. And let me be clear, I’m talking about larger decisions in life, not which shirt to wear or whether I should eat another slice of pizza. So, when faced with these two options, how would I decide? The guarantee was tempting, but I felt like a contestant on the Price is Right playing a game in which I had just uncovered a $10,000 prize. With one remaining pick, I could choose to hold or uncover the final cube, which might be $100,000 or $1, or anywhere in between. Take the guaranteed money or gamble it on coming out on top or losing it all?
Life is much more exciting than money. In my world atleast. I don’t gamble often, relegated only to the occasional trips to Vegas in which I play craps with friends as an activity much like going to a concert or going bowling. Sure, it can cost a lot more than either of those two things, or it can pay for hours of entertainment and then some. But with gambling, there are really only two outcomes: you win or the house wins. With life, the opportunities that may arise from any one decision can multiply exponentially creating a world never imagined, taking you on a ride in which you think you are in control. And while you may be the conductor on the train of your life, you may not necessarily control the track switches. And that’s beautiful.
I don’t think I’ve ever used an amusement park analogy because I don’t really like amusement rides. But if I did, I would liken my choices to the guarantee of riding the newest/tallest/fastest roller coaster and hopping in a single seat car, on tracks that lead outside the park, a ride with no name or description. A ride that noone can review because, if anyone has ever ridden it, it is so personalized that experiences would be irrelevant from one passenger to the other. This single car could drop off a flat earth, sprout wings and fly over erupting volcanoes. Or it could sputter for infinity on flat tracks of comic book black and white. If it were a dream, you might be able to choose your own adventure, but this is real life and expectations rarely pan out as planned. To choose the latter, one must try not to expect anything and improvise when necessary.
I forgot to mention one other source of information that I take under consideration regarding weighty decisions…advice from a good friend. I love my friends and they never hesitate to offer up counsel, especially when I ask their opinions. Looking back, as much as I take their advice under consideration, I usually choose the opposite. It’s not that I don’t value their opinions - I value them greatly –it’s just in my nature to forge my own path. And it has generally worked out well for me. As the late great Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I’ve had a few/But then again, too few to mention.” But this choice is not about regret. On the contrary, it’s about listening to a good friend and reveling in the glory of the opportunities that arise from the choices we make. And whether we risk the bank or not, there is no right or wrong decision.