Traveler's Recital

The Path We Choose

Our futures are determined by a never ending procession of choices that are presented to us by life. Each choice, each fork in the road, leads to the next fork, and that to the next fork, and so on, and so on, and so on. With each decision we make, one infinite set of possible futures is created and lays before us,  while another set of infinite possible futures disappears.  Each choice, and the futures it creates, are the sum total of every choice you have made in your life up to that point. Let me give you an example.

You are walking along and come to a literal fork in the road. To the right is the ocean. If you turn to the right, you will arrive at the ocean in exactly one hour. If you turn to the left, you will arrive in the mountains at exactly the same time. In that moment, before the choice is made, you have two different, but infinite sets of futures before you. You choose the left and take one step toward the mountains. Instantly, all the possible futures associated with going to the ocean disappear. Even if after turning toward the mountains you change your mind and go back toward the ocean, the possible futures that existed before the decision was made are no longer available. They have been replaced with a slightly altered set of futures that now take into account the fact that your initial decision was to go toward the mountains. Because the future is the sum total of all prior choices, the path to the ocean is slightly different than the one you would have taken if you had chosen to turn right in the first place.

Most of us go through life without ever giving this process much thought. However, those people that have difficulties making even the simplest of decisions may understand this, albeit at a subconscious level, and it may be that concept makes decision-making hard for them. The idea that their choice somehow destroys some of their possible futures is more important to them than the decision itself. They are unwilling to make a choice that limits their futures.  What they fail to understand is that when it comes to creating futures, even a simple Yes or No choice has a third possible option that creates and destroy futures. That third choice is to not make a choice. When you don’t make a decision, all the possible futures associated with Yes and No disappear, and the futures associated with not choosing are what is left.

What they also fail to consider is that when dealing with infinite futures, making a choice does not really limit your futures. Our normal math fails us because infinity – infinity is still infinity. You still have infinite possible futures available to you.  Many of the possible futures, even those associated with different choices, are going to be nearly identical. So near to identical that they could be indistinguishable from each other even if we were able to see both of them. When you arrive at the ocean, whether you arrived there because that was your initial choice, or because you first made one choice and then another, the view of the ocean might be nearly the same. However, the possible futures that still lay before you are in some small manner different depending on your past.  Think about this as you move through life. Understand that your future is impacted by every decision, large and small. Don’t be paralyzed by the thought, but use the idea to guide you through the many forks in the road that lie before you.

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