(The) Nobodies Album: #A-Z Challenge
“I’ve always known that the best part of writing occurs before you’ve picked up a pen. When a story exists only in your mind, its potential is infinite; it’s only when you start pinning words to paper that it becomes less than perfect. You have to make your choices, set your limits. Start whittling away at the cosmos, and don’t stop until you’ve narrowed it down to a single, ordinary speck of dirt. And in the end, what you’ve made is not nearly as glorious as what you’ve thrown away.”
The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
I have been reading a lot about this concept in art. Even in abstract art, where one might think that anything goes, the truth is that as you make your choices, there are fewer and fewer choices left to be made.
The arts mirror life. All of us are living lives that are a result of past choices. We have chosen to be married or not; have children or not; do one kind of work instead of another. Of course, some of these decisions may have been externally imposed and not our choice. Arranged marriages and couples unable to conceive come to mind. But for the most part, when we look back, we can see the patterns in our lives, how one choice led inevitably to another.
A New Opportunity to Make Your Choices
Transition times, like retirement or milestone birthdays, often have us thinking about our choices–the ones we’ve made and the ones still left to make.
The opportunity to make new choices at times of transition can be both exhilarating and stressful.
Whether asking “What do I want my life to look like?” or “What do I want to do today?”, there can be a feeling of great untapped potential. Not infinite potential, not limitless, but still enough potential to have us soaring with excitement.
At the same time, there seems to be more at stake. We may feel that we have less time to make mistakes and less time to correct our course if we do.
Limits are Advantageous
And let’s be honest, folks. There’s a point in midlife where each of us calculates that we have less time ahead of us than behind us. Or someone we love dies and we become hyper-aware of time’s passing, of doing what matters before it’s too late.
Rather than worry that our life has a limit, or deny it and pretend immortality, maybe we need to hear Steve Jobs who called his terminal diagnosis “the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”
Where do you stand on the topic of choice? If you’ve experienced a milestone birthday or if you’ve retired, do you feel freer to make choices, or do you feel more anxious that the choices you make be the ‘right’ ones?