The Life We Choose

by Anna

I was wondering once again how much free will we have in our life.

It may appear at times that we are mere puppets directed by outside influences. We succumb to the government’s daily demands fearing penalties if we don’t pay our taxes in time. We buy products we see on advertising and believe that we need them to make our life more fulfilling. We dance to other’s demands because we don’t want to be left out. We worry that if we aren’t good enough we will not be seen as a full person.

But why? Who are we?

Depending on what belief you follow you might have different ideas about this question. Most people think that you live this life and that’s it. For me, that doesn’t make sense. Why do I do all this stuff, achieve so much in this lifetime without it having any meaning at the end of my life because I simply stop existing? And no, a memorial stone and a page in a book simply doesn’t justify a single existence.

It is a tricky question, because there is no evidence. There are ideas, thoughts, mystic believes and if you find one that suits you, play along.

At the end of the day it shouldn’t matter what happens after this life has ended. We ought to be enjoying the moment that we got. Seize the day and make it worth living. By all means protest against the government or throw a tantrum if you had enough of following someone’s ideal. As long as you don’t upset anyone innocent and your plan leads towards a better world and ultimately a better you, it should be fine.

What gets me most though are those who have a mind clear as the morning sky but no means of expressing themselves because their physical body doesn’t comply.

Their being is there. But it may not be able to express itself to the standard that it feels like in itself. This must be very, very frustrating and I can only faintly scrape the emotional state of this experience.

I myself get very frustrated when I am being misunderstood or don’t know how to express myself or put a feeling into words. Unfortunately, those with a disability that makes communication by speech, movement or facial expression impossible are often seen as daft, a waste of space, not worth the effort. This makes me profoundly sad, although I have to say that it took me a few years to come to the full understanding and accompanying empathy that this situation requires.

Only recently have I begun to venture into the person’s mind, their “real being”, what they might be feeling and came to the understanding that they are just like any “normal” person, without the physical engagement. Take Stephen Hawking for example. What an amazing and inspiring mind caught in a shell that doesn’t work properly!

Every day at work I encounter people with dementia, stroke, paraplegia, multiple sclerosis…the list is by no means exhaustive. I now begin to get a much deeper understanding of the person behind the disability.

However, a different question arising is how much of the “real person” is left of a dementia sufferer? Here it is more the mind that has gone, but the body reminds more or less functional. Some people develop different personality traits the more the illness progresses. How much of the “real being” is still left? And how do they really feel inside?

Back to free will. Do we have an influence on the path our life takes? If we never smoked, always ate good nutritional food and avoided alcohol to the best of our knowledge and we still get diagnosed with a terminal illness, what does that say about us and our life?

There is a 50/50 chance that we will or won’t live a happy and healthy life. But I believe that it is also a 50/50 chance that our personal influence can or can’t make it a better life. We also need to take our hereditary traits into account. What is concealed in our cells that we don’t know about? And there is also the influence our mere thoughts have on our wellbeing. Thoughts are real! Only because they don’t last very long and come and go like the wind shouldn’t give us the false impression that they don’t leave an imprint. Especially if the same thought reappears repeatedly. Whichever way you might think about this, positive thoughts are very important! I will write more about this another time.

The biggest influence, however, is what we decided this life to be like before we were even born.

Bang, here we go again. Is this mere believe because it can’t be proven? Or could there be some truth in it? Or is it just an explanation we make up to account for life’s injustices because nothing else would make sense? It isn’t easy at all to just accept what life does, especially if it seems unjustified. How much do accidents account for in our life plan?

Every decision we make, consciously and unconsciously, leads us to a new adventure. And even if this is just to pop to the shop down the road where you meet someone who will bring you on a completely different path which will reveal all it’s surprises and mysteries to you in due course without you even having a clue of what is going on.  Think back to the beginning of your last journey. Was it clear to you at that point where you were going? Or do you think now that you never thought you would be where you are right now.

Life’s paths are mysterious but that doesn’t make them less real. And you do play a part in the planning of your life even if you are not aware of it. Once you do become aware though it will be even more interesting for you to find out how you will shape your new future!