Meaning

One Choice Becomes Many

“Choose well; your choice is

Brief and yet endless;”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Mason Lodge, 1827

 

We unconsciously, in daily mundane acts, make choices all the time. We usually do so with little acknowledgment that we are even making a choice, it’s usually habit that makes the decision for us. We are free to choose and free to act accordingly. What does that mean for us?

Every choice we make, no matter how seemingly unimportant, is significant.

It is significant because we can usually tell that there is a good and a bad choice to choose from. Choosing well on a constant basis reinforces that behaviour. A good choice more often than not involves effort, struggle or sacrifice on our part. Making (seemingly) small good choices every day, helps us when the decisions become more difficult to make. If we are constantly making bad choices in our everyday actions, from where are we meant to gather the strength necessary to face big decisions and choose well.

A series of good choices over time accumulates into a lot of good decisions and positive action.

Without us realising, every choice we make contributes to who we become, shapes our character and our integrity. Like droplets of water, over time, they will make an ocean. If we really believed we are a result of all our choices, perhaps we would choose more carefully.

The liberty to be able to decide our own path is glorious. But if we are free to make our own choices, that means we are responsible for them.

The consequences and moral implications are ours to bear. Not only do we have moral responsibility for how our choices affect others, but for how they affect ourselves. If we are constantly making choices that degrade our character, integrity, sense of self value etc, we must claim responsibility for our own undoing. Think of it like this; because we possess the freedom to choose, we are actively making a good or bad decision. That means we own it, whatever the outcome.

Our freedom to choose for ourselves brings value to everything we do, because we picked it.

The thought of this can be almost too much to bear. If everything we choose and do has value, we cannot pretend to be mere bystanders in life. That means taking responsibility, for everything. But if there is value in our choices and actions, it also means we can guide where our lives go, or failing that, we can still certainly decide how we develop as people within our circumstances.

We want to make good choices, but it involves effort, sacrifice, and bearing responsibility.

There is also usually an easier option that is tempting us. Over time though, picking the easy option amounts to nothing of any substance, where-as making an effort to choose well, surely must. With every choice we make, we are moulding ourselves into who we will become. When making a choice try to see how it will affect your mould, how will it shape you in times to come. When thought of this way, it puts a lot more weight in our choices, imploring us to choose wisely. If everything matters, then everything counts; there is real consequential value in how we choose today.

Jan Toorop, 1893, The Three Brides.
Jan Toorop, 1893, The Three Brides. Location: The Kröller-Müller Museum, Netherlands. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The woman in the middle is the central figure; on either side of her represent a choice. To her left stands a woman representing evil, or earthly life; with skulls draped around her neck. On her right is a saintly looking woman, or spiritual life; representing good. From her central position she must choose her direction.

 

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