Monday, March 5, 2007

Sliding MnM's...

At one point or another we all sit back and ponder to ourselves, "What if I had become an architect/married someone else/had another cupcake???"

In life, and often when slipping into a mid-life crisis, we tend to look at the big decisions we've made; whether to take a job somewhere, whether to move or not move somewhere new, whether to stay with someone or not, and without ever wondering about the small decisions of our lives, which scarily may be playing a much bigger role than we had ever thought. Blue or black socks? Turkey or Roast Beef? Should I run that red light or not?

I am not saying that this is a topic that hasn't been explored (Sliding Doors, anyone?) but on a daily basis, how often is making a decision this trite so difficult and near-impossible? Hardly ever? Should I cross the road up here or down there? Should I stop to get some gum? Should I get into this cab or the next? Without realizing it, and quite distressfully so, these decisions end up shaping our lives much more prominently than we would like to think. I mean, is it fair that your decision to wear a red shirt instead of a blue should dictate your future in any shape way or form?

For some of you reading this, you may have started thinking "This girl is absolutely bonkers, how can my decision to pick up a bag of MnM’s instead of a Snickers bar matter at all?!"
If this is you, then picture this:

A long day at the office has forced you to go down to the lobby souvenir shop for a mid-afternoon snack. After minimal debate, you decide to purchase a bag of MnM’s. You walk out of the shop and in your haste for a sugar fix, you fling open the bag, dropping a couple. Annoyed with yourself, you bend over to pick up the candy and realize that the slippery marble floor has sent a red MnM's careening to the left. You reach out and grab it, and as you stand up, your head comes in direct contact with none other than your boss' protruding chin. You apologize hastily, struggling to assess the physical damage you've done without making physical contact with the boss. Your boss is understanding, "Don't worry about it, how's your head?" You are quick to reply, "Oh I'm fine! Thank you!" not having expected the attention. You lock eyes with your boss, and he says unexpectedly, "Say, might you be interested in joining the accounting team on the Paris trip? We sure could use an extra head from audit." Taken aback by the invitation, it takes u a second to respond, "I would love to come." Three days later you find yourself in a business class seat, enjoying a scotch on the rocks. It is at this point that you chuckle to yourself, silently thanking the MnM's for getting you here.

And I know what you're thinking: what if I had bought the Snickers??? Something even greater could have happened! You might have not dropped anything and as a result seen an old college friend which you ended up having coffee with, getting together for dinner with, dating and eventually married to with lots and lots of babies.

Or what if you had decided not to pick up the fallen MnM's or, better yet, not gone down for a snack at all?

Frighteningly enough, we make hundreds of similar decisions every day. Having an extra coffee may mean needing to go to the bathroom before leaving work which may mean sharing an elevator with a prominent CEO of a publishing company which may lead to the book deal you have been waiting your whole life for. But it could equally mean that you miss the elevator ride with the CEO. So how can you know whether you are making the right decision? There are no pros and cons to weigh. You can never know whether you are making the right decision, or in the end, whether you made the right choice.

Big decisions and trivial choices, each riding on the fact that we believe in free will, believe in the ability to "choose our destiny". But the very concept in itself is paradoxical, for destiny is something unknown and something which cannot be pinpointed or measured, and something which cannot be chosen for it is what it is. Whether you choose to marry someone or not, or whether you choose to have that extra drink or not, could make the ultimate difference in your life, so armed with this knowledge, the real question is: "How do I decide?"

Next time you're in a restaurant, pondering the decision of whether or not to accept your boyfriend's marriage proposal, think for a second longer, pondering the more important decision of the evening: will it be chocolate mousse cake or crème brulée?