Saturday, 10 May 2014

"You choose the life you lead"

"You choose the life you lead"

I was in an acquaintance's house the other day and I saw this quote on a picture somewhere. If I'm honest she does have an enviable lifestyle, at least when looked at from the outside. I'm not sure I would change my life with hers, but I would not mind too much if my life offered me the opportunities that it offers her. She does not have to work, can pursue an enviable creative and social life. Funnily, what I envy her more is not her money, but the time that it affords her! 
There is certainly a propensity, especially amongst people who feel they have done well with their lives, to feel it is a direct consequence of their action. In many instances it is a consequence of choice. Partly. But it is also, undoubtedly, good fortune. Good fortune to be born in a time of peace, in a prosperous country. To have been presented with opportunities. To not have had burdens. 

Yes, there are choices. Yes, we are partly responsible for making the right choices, from "adjusting the sails" as and when we need to be happy. Yet, we ought to see too, that having a choice in the first place is a huge privilege. 

Theoretically there is always a choice. Everyone in the world can decide to work fewer hours to have more quality time with their spouse, right? Yet, if you are living in a developing country, where you are living on less than a dollar a day, it is only a theoretical choice: the reality of your life is that if you don't work all the hours given to you, you, your family and dependants will starve. Not much of a choice.

In a time when we, in the developed world, are presented with more and more choice and with a sense of control over our lives, we often fail to see that it is not like that for everyone. That our choices are our own, but the fact that we have them, that is often just a matter of good luck.  

I want to end with a quote from Baz Luhrmann's Everyone is Free (to wear Sunscreen):

"What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s." 

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