Hamlet!! I beg to differ! How limiting could that question be? How restraining could it ever get? Do we only have two possible answers to a question? Do we always have two things to choose from? Are our options so restricted? Are we so grounded? Have we gone color blind? When did our retinas stop seeing the colors of a rainbow? Why do we print our experiences in duotone? In a game of multiple choice questions, how many answers could be correct? What number of choices do we have? Who gives us the options? When do we have to submit our selections? Who decides if we passed or failed? I studied Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet, ages ago. I remember enjoying the depth, the soliloquies, and the suffering of a tragic hero until his cathartic downfall. Only today that Hamlet’s line began bothering me – this cannot be it! We might as well die and end our misery!
I was brought up to be your typical “option-less” person but I learned how to find micro-options and loopholes of choices in the tightest of situations and the trickiest of questions. It was always hard for me to choose between two dishes, or two men, when one gave me heartburn and the other made my brain go numb. I went through a long journey of self discovery where I learned the virtue of the big picture, multi-dimensions, and different perspectives. I found my true calling and now there is no putting off to the fire within my soul. Being a Libra, I have always weighed my options on the fair scales of my inanimate birth sign. I still weigh the possibilities but they are much more than two. It shocks me now to meet people who are still trapped in the narrow tunnels of low self esteem and shackled to the ground by lead balls of fear. With there black blindfolds on, they face the brick walls of self inflicted imprisonment and turn their backs to all the opportunities in the world.
I was training some remarkable ladies from one of the UN bodies in Egypt, one thing led to the other, and I told them that we – human beings – have unlimited options. Silence filled the meeting room, heads turned to face me, eyes widened, jaws dropped, and then they all said: “No, we don’t! We do not have “that many” choices. We have commitments, responsibilities, and burdens that leave us only a few options to choose from.” They told me that my freedom to choose is directly related to my being single. They insisted that they could not do as they pleased, regardless of its impact on those around them, and I insisted that the power to choose does not mean being reckless; I do not want them to runaway from their duties, I want them to embrace them. Choices liberate us and knowing that we will never run out of options and alternatives is a relief. I am grateful that I am not married to any of the men who came my way. I am delighted that I am not stuck with one of those careers that suck the living life out me. I can safely assume that I am a happy person; on a scale from one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, I would give myself a comfortable eight.
We are meant to choose. We are created to investigate options and alternatives. We are not equipped to compromise for the long term. There are times when we consciously limit our options because we do not want to feel overwhelmed by the infinity of choices out there. It is difficult to choose; the bigger the selection, the more helpless we feel. How do we know we are making the right decision? How do we know that we are choosing what is good for us? How can we tell that we are not going to regret this? Other than using our limited common sense and intangible gut feeling, we will never know! But this should not limit us when looking into options. It is normal to make mistakes, just as much as it is normal to look into more and more choices for corrective actions. Nothing justifies waking up in the morning hating what you wake up to, who you wake up with, or where you get up to go. Nothing explains leading an unfulfilled life with an unfulfilling job and an unfulfilling partner. We only live once, so we had better make perfect use of our time on earth.
I am not pleading for drastic measures like divorce, immigration, a great escape, or 180 degrees career changes; I am defending our human right to choose. Our lives do not have to come to a standstill if we are in the wrong job with the wrong boss or in the wrong house with the wrong partner. We do not have to settle! We do not need to settle! We should not settle! After being confined in a solitary cell, freeing your mind starts with knowing who you are. Find the answers in your heart: what do I like? What makes me happy? What makes my eyes light up with hope? What makes my cheeks glow with achievement? What makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning? What puts a smile on my face when someone, or something, rocks my boat? Be it a new language, a long forgotten hobby, a dream career, a challenging sport, or anything else that adds flavor to a tasteless dish – anything that adds color to our black and white life. No Hamlet, I am sorry; it does not have to be or not to be!