To accompany this recent reflection on purpose I wanted to stray into the arena of choice because purpose and choice have a strange and strained relationship.
You see, purpose in some ways intends for there a set path before us, one that either is given or is created through hard work and dedication. This purpose, be it predestined or manifested creates a dilemma, if we have the path, how could we stray from it, the forks in the road only highlight the false potential of different choice made and different purpose held. If we have what appears to be this true purpose, the choice though apparent is no more than an exercise in false wills because we would never deviate from the path set out before us.
We like choice, or thinking about having choices. It is a luxury of growing up in our time period. Seemingly limitless sets of possibilities unfurl themselves before us, giving us options and opportunities we never knew we had in the hopes that each one will be taken, all roads followed and new roads paved. Choice comes with a burden of unknowing. If there is no destination in sight, our hearts hesitate for we do not want to make the wrong choice. To go down the path that leads us astray and lose our most precious resource, time, to the follies of circumstance or indecision.
It’s hard to balance these things, purpose, and choice because it is a matter of belief in how much autonomy we actually have. It’s these two things that I fight over regularly. There is a belief in me, coming from ancestors and culture that anyone can be anything, work towards the dream and accomplish what they put their mind to. This is juxtaposed with the knowledge that people don’t necessarily do that, some people can’t be singers, artists, powerful businessmen. It’s as if our world has to be asymmetric. If there is a winner, there has to be a loser. If someone gets first place, most likely there a second or third. What happens to those people, it’s ridiculous to say that they simply wanted it less, that in their heart of hearts chose to not go to the top. What of choice then? Is it but a game where the rules are defined by the resources accrued and given from birth. How far we can go, no more of an option of the great limitations erected by time and self-belief. Is this world just the chaos of people running through this maze hoping to find the center and be happy?
As for purpose, it holds that darker reality to be true. That some people are meant to not succeed. It elevates and exasperates, instead of being subjected to the will and desire of power or person whom may hold dominion over us. It’s hard to stomach, that our lives may not have these paths to follow but are more akin to a track which shows us the world but never lets us deviate to explore it. This can be a freeing feeling though, that your life is always going to some other destination that you are always where you are meant to be. It allows for us to feel and believe that the problems of today are only a part of the journey and the decisions that are made were suppose to be that way. Though this disposition usually only works when times are well. The great problem of evil is that everything happens with a purpose and bad things happen to good people with no benefit, at which point should we follow this divine power who seems to act in ways we cannot understand to ends we cannot comprehend. What happens to those who are made to suffer their whole lives, never knowing truth or happiness? What happens when destiny forsakes us and dreams?
The reason that this is so problematic for me is that ideologies clash, but don’t always overlap. We will always make choices regardless of what fate may have in store for us. As a psychologist, my whole ideology is that I can predict peoples live’s if only I had enough knowledge and data, but with that, it can change the path of those to come after into something better.
Can we really be all that we want to be? I have to believe that perhaps I do have more choice or greater purpose. That in the darkness, it is not the end but a chance to change. A freedom to start anew, be whom I envision for myself, and find my way back home.