Choosing Now.

“CHOICE”. The word was tattooed in big letters, all capitals, screaming at me from the arm of the bartender who served my lunch in the dingy pub of a Philadelphia airport hotel.

I confess, I’d been sitting at the bar moping before the man with the fabulous tattoo delivered my soda water. Even with all the silence, life has been feeling very complicated. Despite all my searching for home, climbing mountains and traveling the world in quest for my next step in this fabulous life, I feel stuck in a strange way. I’m stuck in a world of too much choice.

I’ve always been big on the whole idea of choice. In fact, I believe that Choice is one of the most powerful things we as humans can possess. In all my 20 years of travels and humanitarian work around the globe, I’ve learned a lot about choice and the lack of it.

Poverty isn’t solely about the need for water or healthcare or opportunity for education- at the core it’s about being without the power to choose a different future. Powerful governments control by taking away people’s foundational right to choose what they can read, what websites and movies they view, and what work they can do. Human choice is essential for opportunity.

My life’s journey has certainly taught me to be grateful for choice, however I’ve also been learning recently that too much choice can be debilitating. Lately, I’ve landed smack in the middle of a #firstworldproblem: over-abundance of choice. It’s like 200 different brands of cereal in the supermarket breakfast aisle or the 40 page menu at the Cheesecake Factory. I’m surrounded by all kind of good, yet find myself moping around because I’m just not sure what to pick.

With every refill of my water glass, the tattooed waiter brought another reminder. “CHOICE. CHOICE. CHOICE. “ It was as if he was silently saying, “You can choose to dwell in the anxiety of choosing or simply dwell in today with gratitude for all the opportunity and possibility ahead.”

I finished up lunch, stumbled off the bar stool and tipped the man with the incredible and inspirational tattoo. He’d served me that day more than he’d ever know.

Back in my room I pondered the afternoon while flipping through a magazine. It prophetically fell open to this advertising slogan declaring that I not forget my lunchtime lesson:

“It’s about embracing what’s now. But always wondering what’s next.”

Today I’m grateful to have the choice to do exactly that.

6 responses to “Choosing Now.”

  1. Marianne says:

    Love how you put it and when the time is right you can choose to come over and visit. Love M and R

  2. cecil says:

    It sounds easy but taking the step to choose is loaded with many considerations. Too many sometimes, depending on where and what you are. In the end, oh well, you need to.

  3. Fly Brother says:

    This post came “right on time,” as my parents would say. In fact, I just spent the last few days trying to convince my boomer-aged parents that it’s the overabundance of choice that often leaves me stifled, a conundrum of which they have much difficulty conceiving, since their lives were often shaped by lack of choices. That overabundance is indeed a double-edged sword for which, like you, I’m both grateful and circumspect.

    Thank you for this post.

  4. Christy says:

    Steph, thanks so much for the reminder. I am so bad about this–I often get overwhelmed with choice, forgetting that in and of itself, its a blessing. But that anxiety strips me of the here, now, joy that I should be revelling in!

  5. wanderingzito says:

    @Ceceil @Ernest & @Christy – Glad it resonated. It doesn’t feel as lonely when you know there are others walking the same journey. Wishing you each much joy in whatever you’re choosing today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *