Return The Sun: August 2011



The Cliff

This looked unreal in real life.

The Cliff


Mountain Goat




Silver Star


The cafeteria at my university has the most delicious chicken strips.
Crispy on the outside, and incredibly juicy and tender on the inside.
The cooks make them just right so that they're still nice and hot when they
get to your table.
And on top of that, they're served with a mountain of fries,
fresh out of the deep-fryer, with a crispy golden skin and
just the right amount of sea salt.

That's what I was thinking about last week.
As I sat there.
Eating my salad.

Every time I'm in the cafeteria on my lunch break I face this choice.
Either I do what I know is right and just enjoy my salad, or I ignore my
conscience and indulge in those chicken strips.
Sometimes I make the latter choice, but only if I make a deal with myself.
Something like "I'll only eat these if I go for a run tonight"

A few months ago, this wouldn't have even been an issue.
I would've just devoured the chicken strips without thinking.
But the reason this debate happens now is because I realized that
my choice will have consequences.
If I stick to my salad, I won't have as much pleasure now,
but the reward will be greater in the future.
And vice versa, if I give in to those chicken strips, I'll have immense
pleasure now, but I'll face the consequences of those extra calories soon.

I used to have a more abstract view of the decisions I make in life,
a view that 'whatever happens, happens' and that life is just a nebulous
movement of various events and people.
And while that's true to a degree, it's also one of the reasons why many
refuse to take action and live lives of passive existence.

You have a lot more control than you realize.

To use a very cliched example, think of it like a building.
The choices you make everyday are like the bricks that you lay down.
Since you're always working at the most recent unfinished level, you
don't really have an idea of how this whole building will turn out.
You just keep doing your thing, laying one row of bricks after the other,
day by day. And if you mess up on one, you don't really see it as a big deal
because it's just the top row and nothing is built on it yet.
But then one day, you look down and see all those rows that you've previously
laid. And then you see how one small mistake in those rows can screw up
everything built on top of it. And how one brick that's seemingly unimportant
can jeopardize the entire building project.

If you think about it, that's quite an empowering thought.
The fact that you have control over the decisions you make.
You literally have the capability to shape your life into anything
you want it to be.

Of course, there's always something to be said for things that are out of
our control. But even with those, you still have a choice.
You can choose whether to worry and stress about it, or just let it go
and relax.

You choose what kind of person you will be.
You make that choice by the little choices you make every single day.
Your life is made up of small choices like that.
You and I face them everyday.

What do I invest my time in? How do I use the 24 hours that I have as
efficiently as I can? Do I keep myself busy with the things that need to get done
or do I just lounge around procrastinating?

When I'm stuck behind some old lady driving 10 under the speed limit,
and I'm late to class.
Do I get frustrated or do I just chill out and accept it?

Do I stay home and keep staring at the screen, or do I go outside
and bike/run/skate/whatever?

When someone acts in a way that I dislike, do I harbor bitterness toward them,
or do I make the choice to love them in spite of their imperfection?

Do I waste my money on coffee and eating out, or do I understand that every
little bit counts and save it up instead?

Do I strike up a conversation with this stranger walking next to me, or do
we just both keep walking in awkward silence?

Do I eat one brownie or two?

Do I strive to make something great out of my life, or do I just passively
float by doing the bare minimum?

Some choices are not as clear as chicken strips vs. salad.
Some choices have many factors to consider.
Some choices carry much heavier consequences.
Some choices are really hard to make.

But these choices are yours everyday.
Be aware of them.
Be smart about them.
Take control.
Live your life.
Make your choice.


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