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There is some energy behind the idea that when you have no choices you are in a state of bliss. But there is also energy behind the idea that having perfect freedom of choice is the ideal condition. There are stories of monks choosing to go into absolute isolation so they can dedicate themselves to union with the ultimate. There are also stories of people coming out of solitary confinement claiming that experience is extremely painful and to be avoided.

Others claim that the middle path is to be chosen because that route leads to maximizing one’s chances of finding a life of contentment. In contradiction, there are people I know who claim that hiking alone in the wilderness, where one is totally dependent on their good judgment to avoid death, gives meaning to life. This strikes me as contradictory because it seems bad judgment to thrust one’s life into risky situations simply to be in risky situations.

Others might be willing to take chances but only for a good reason and where the potential payoffs far outweigh the potential catastrophes. These people would also seek to have a reliable fallback position from a failure.

These ideas all seem fraught with some pre-existing personal need to get more out of life than life is able to give them in ordinary situations. It feels like a desperate grasping at life and a willingness to risk everything for an illusion of victory over death. Those seem like black and white choices: either they get their glimpse of heaven and then feel they have gripped ultimate reality or they die trying. Or is it just bragging rights that they have cheated death? That is their reward; that is, if death doesn’t win the gamble.

All choices come down to a decision in a moment of to act or not to act. It is the proverbial fork in the road. Even in the supermarket breakfast cereal aisle where there may be over a hundred unique boxes to choose between, there comes a moment of deciding this box is the one I take home. Somehow we have narrowed the number of options and, presumably, every one of those narrowings was some kind of a choice, some kind of a this not that. Even if the choice is between this vast number of boxes versus that vast number of boxes, it is a binary decision. It is a fork in the road choice. That choice is followed by another choice, even though the choice may be very nebulous, and so it goes until a single box is in your hand and soon in your home and soon in your breakfast cereal bowl.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it, and take it again until it is a dead-end and then quit.

The ideal number of choices to have is none.

 

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