Life is a series of choices ?!

I woke up this morning thinking about choices,open-ended questions and surveys.  I fell somewhat short of the goal of 1657 words yesterday because I just couldn’t think of anymore to say.  It’s true!   Rode that horse as far as it would go and didn’t quite reach the barn.  Over 500 words short, as a matter of fact.  Poor thing would have been left out in the cold, if it had been a real horse.

So, i woke up thinking about choices, etc., as I said.  It presented itself as: if you don’t see the choices….do you really HAVE choices?  How many times have you said, or, heard someone else say “I had no choice” ?Do you believe it?  Whether you are saying it yourself or hearing it said, do you believe it?

Next thought, similar vein; have you ever noticed when people are saying they had no choice, it’s usually in reference to something bad happening?  I can not recall, say, a lottery winner saying, gee, I really had no choice.  Or the bride or groom at a wedding (shotgun weddings excluded).  You might hear it during the divorce proceedings, at some point.  How about getting hired at a new job?  It could happen there, I guess.  Still, more likely to be heard when someone is being let go, regardless of the reason for termination.

I think heroic people have said it; although I couldn’t cite any specific example with names and places.  Just seems I’ve heard it in connection with people running into burning buildings, or pulling someone from an auto wreck.  They were there, saw what needed to be done and did it.  They had no choice.  If they did, they never let it stop them from doing what needed to get done.

Most of the time it sounds like an excuse, to me anyway.  Like, I was just following orders, just doing my job or, the ever popular, it’s just company policy.

Notice, I said “sounds like” an excuse.  Sometimes it’s the short version of: i considered a number of other possibilities and this turned out to be the best.  And how often is that more like the truth?  The short version  is  something like the difference between having your throat cut and being drawn and quartered.  The first is quick and merciful (?) while the second tends to be long and drawn out.  Just guessing here, have no first-hand experience with either.

Sign outside the Hung, Drawn and Quartered pub...

Image via Wikipedia

And, there are people who at times and in situations really do believe they have no choice.  It happens a lot with people who have been beaten down by life, sometimes even when They are the ones beating on themselves.  The more stress a person feels, the fewer choices s/he is likely to recognize.  There are folks walking around with either very strong spiritual muscles and/or great intestinal fortitude and intellectual presence under any circumstances.  These are rare persons, indeed, who can see any number of choices and make wise decisions under fire.  The rest of us mere mortals trudge along , making decent choices most of the time and only occasionally running into an “I had no choice” situation.  When you look back at those situations, from the comfort of your favorite chair, do you still think the same thing?  I can finally say no to that, but it’s a long story, for another day.  This is the blog, not the novel.

The second branch in the river of thoughts was about open-ended questions and how I usually prefer them.  I’m careful to say usually because “why” is an open-ended question that can drive me right around the bend.  And I’m quite comfortable at the moment, thank you.  I also don’t like it when the questions are leading…are they still open-ended, if they are leading?  I am not a parrot or a tape recorder.   I have loathed rehearsed, specific responses to questions for a long time.  Puts me too much in mind of catechism and not being allowed to question the programmed responses.  I won’t say I can’t be programmed, just that it won’t be easy.  Unless you cheat.  As long as I’m allowed use of my full faculties, there isn’t much I take at face value.  Almost nothing I don’t question.  Yes, I was one of those kids.  Although I hold an actual, legitimate four-year degree, most of my education, such as it is, is from the school of hard knocks .  At this point I’m claiming PhDs.   The advantage of typing this stuff is that it’s easier to follow the trail of crumbs back to my point.  I was saying how I prefer open-ended questions.   I have some thoughts on closed ended questions and will get to them when surveys is the topic.

And I think that’s right now, cause whatever else I was planning to say has just fled the scene.

I am not a good person to survey when responses are limited to yes and no.  Doesn’t seem to matter how the question is phrased, I have a multitude of reasons why either answer would be substantially true, or, substantially false and so tend to choose neither.  If caught in a cooperative mood, I might play along, but, don’t bet your paycheck on it.  If the question is both closed and leading it’s quite likely I’ll just decide Bulls___ and stop playing altogether.  Which is how I read most survey questions.  If the surveyors have already decided the results they want it is really insulting to ask questions in the first place.

Ever hear, “there are liars, damned liars and statisticians”?  Mark Twain said that. Thank you Google.  Surveys aren’t the only source of statistics , just a pretty big one.  4 out of 5 doctors recommend_________________.  Have you ever been to a doctor that recommended _____________?  I haven’t.  Not a huge fan of doctors anyway. (another long story for another day)  Point is, I have had occasion to ask doctors about _____________ and they either had no opinion or suggested other alternatives.  Consistently.  All you statisticians out there, what is the probability that I only found doctor #5 each time?  Or, doctor #10 when the range was 9 out of 10.  Yes, I’ve led a very sheltered life.  I believe there ought to be at least a small measure of truth in advertising.  Not naive or innocent enough to believe that there is, just a wishful thinker, idealist.  Wouldn’t it be nice to read or listen to an ad and know what they were saying was mostly true?  Yes, I jumped the divide from naiveté to cynicism too many years ago to count.  bet I’m not the only one!

This line actually led into a sequence of thoughts about reality tv.  The only thing accurate or true about that is tv.  According to me anyway.  And came to mind when thinking about closed questions because they lead to inaccuracy at best and lying at worst.  Most of my cynicism is based on the belief that a majority of publicly broadcast “information” is somewhere on that scale.  From the little I’ve seen of the genre I equate it with American cheese, or, processed, pasteurized , cheese food!!!  Not fit for human consumption.  I was stunned at how rapidly and thoroughly the genre caught fire.  It is my fervent hope that it dies out soon.  Disco came and finally went, didn’t it?  I actually didn’t totally hate disco. I was younger then.

As I briefly peruse what I’ve written so far, what it all seems to come back to is learning to tell the truth.  To myself most of all.  I’ve lied to myself often enough about not having any choice.  I now realize what I really meant, more often than not , was I didn’t really like any of the options I saw.  And I’ve been getting better,  recently, about talking to a live, other person and getting a more balanced view of things.  Often, people outside can see one or two positive options that never occurred to me.  I really do like having choices. Just don’t go crazy with them.  Too many and my head explodes, so, just as bad as none.

I knew there was one more thing. Dichotomies!  Either/Or , right/wrong, good/bad….you get the idea. Only two sides to the coin.  Two major political parties.  When I was a kid, i used to think there were only Catholics and”Publics”  Do they still tell kids in grammar school that there is only one true religion?  I’ve gotten so far away from all that, I honestly don’t know.  There is the theory that kids should receive consistent messages about most things in life.   My cynical mind insists I add, it doesn’t need to be true, it helps if you believe.  What I was leading up to is that there  is so much in life that just isn’t that clear-cut.  There are, in fact, shades of gray, middle of the road choices and ideas and ideals that bear consideration and even follow through.

It is my contention that “the great unwashed” is beginning to bathe regularly.  And why I find Occupy Wall Street such a fascinating phenomenon.  I think people are understanding that change cannot and will not come about through our political system.  There are too many with a vested interest in the status quo.  Money talks!  And parks it’s keister right square in the middle of things, leaving very little wiggle room for those without.  OWS is about choice. About having REAL choices.  And if the money supply and old boy network can be brought to task, if not eliminated, maybe we can get back to a level of prosperity and more full employment.  It just occurred to me, I’ve been saying for years that a revolution is coming.  It’s here!  And, for the most part, not radical, off with their heads rhetoric.  Of course there are trouble makers and rabble rousers.  I’m not sure there’s a way to avoid them entirely.  I am encouraged to see the Occupy movement grow and spread.   I think they know what the Tea Party still doesn’t seem to grasp.  When legislation is for sale, go to the money source!  Just like any good mystery writer says “follow the money”.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved and exceeded the word count goal!  Wahoo!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ivana Preisendorf
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:52:51

    Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!


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