Monday, August 30, 2010

Every choice matters

Milestone birthdays are naturally a time to reflect on your life. And in case I wasn't doing so already, God thought it would be fitting to have the homilist preach on the meaning of life on my 50th birthday.

Father Frank told us about Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning. This is a profoundly serious subject and it was a long sermon, but the idea is as simple as this - the meaning of life is found in every single moment; not in our circumstances but in how we choose to react to our circumstances.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. ~Viktor Frankl
I've written before about the meaning of life, and I stand by my assertion that it is found in our relationships. This meshes perfectly with Frankl's theory because our relationships are built or destroyed by the choices we make every single moment.

Just think about everything you did and everyone you interacted with yesterday. From the time you woke up until the time you fell asleep again, you had literally hundreds of opportunities to make choices that define the meaning of your life.

How did you react to the little things? Did you say "excuse me" to the strangers you bumped (or who bumped you) while walking in a crowd? Did you slow down or change lanes to let another car ease into traffic? Did you say "thank you" with a smile to the person who made your coffee?

How about the more important things? Did you choose to tell the truth when a lie seemed easier? Did you fulfill a commitment that you really, really wish you hadn't made? Were you a friend when a friend needed you? Did you forgive when it was asked of you? Did you deal honestly in your personal and professional life? (By the way...you can't really separate the two.) Were you faithful?

My life - where I am right now - is the sum total of the choices I have made for fifty years. My relationships are what they are because of the choices I have made. Some broken relationships can never be repaired. As much as I would like to, I cannot go back and make different choices.

All any of us can do is go forward with the knowledge that every choice matters, even when it seems trivial. Because the choices we make in each moment collectively define who we are.

So go out there and make good choices today.

1 comment:

Krysta said...

Gestalt psychology to a tee!! The real meaning of things is not in the stimulus-response actions that occur, but in the relationship between variables. The experience cannot be broken down into small variables and examined as such, life must be examined as a whole because the relationships between all of these variables is the most important thing to understand. Every event in our lives is important because the culmination of these events IS what determines our lives. =o)