We Are Always Choosing

April 6, 2021

I posted last week about decision-making and the notion that we always have a choice. Then another entire facet about choosing and choices occurred to me that I got really excited about.

Having a choice goes beyond deciding what our priorities are and how to make time. We also have a choice in how we respond to people, places, things, and situations. Every time something or someone crosses our path we get to decide how we want to react. 

My dad and I were at a grocery store a few weeks ago. We ran in to grab a few quick things, some of which we had asked a store employee to hold for us at the front. When we got to the register we asked the woman checking us out if she wouldn’t mind grabbing what was being held for us. Kindly, she obliged and brought back some of the items that were being held for us. In the meantime, another woman got in line behind us. Dad and I were laughing and joking when we realized the woman helping us at the checkout hadn’t gotten all of our items from the clerk’s desk. We asked if she could possibly get the few remaining items that hadn’t been brought over, and she once again, kindly obliged. But this time, the woman behind us in line had apparently had enough of us. She yelled, “OH NOW THEY WANT TO GO BACK FOR MORE STUFF AFTER THEY’VE ALREADY CHECKED OUT!”

Obviously, that wasn’t the case. Initially, my dad and I were shocked and slightly embarrassed, and then almost instantaneously we were both PISSED. How dare that woman accuse us of something we hadn’t done? I could see both Dad and I start to boil over, so I tried to explain to the woman behind us in line what had happened. She wasn’t understanding and got continuously more and more frustrated by my words and presence. Dad and I, trying not to haul off and scream back at her, made a beeline for the car. For the next fifteen minutes, my dad and I sat in the car talking about how ridiculous the woman in line behind us had been. How she had no right. How it was so incredibly rude. That she didn’t understand. That we hate when people assume things about us. We went on and on and on. 

About a week later, my parents caught someone trespassing on their property and utilizing the space under the stairs as a bathroom. Understandably, that upset both of my parents, but pretty quickly the situation escalated and my dad was yelling at the woman who had used his house as a lavatory.

Now, I don’t think it was entirely uncalled for that he got so upset. But what I do know, is that the woman did not know that my dad’s father was currently in hospice and within a week had gone from perfectly healthy, to perhaps only having a few hours left to live. All of the emotions behind the situation with my dad’s father were a part of his reaction.

When I heard this story from my parents, I had to think about the woman in line behind my dad and me at the supermarket. A seemingly pretty benign situation seemed to have deeply upset her. I realized that I had no idea what was going on in her life that day. For all I know she could’ve been going through a situation similar to my dad’s and her reaction to us not having all our groceries lined up could have triggered something deeply upsetting to her. 

So, we have a choice. We can react any way we want. And as we start to react we can remember that that other peoples’ actions and reactions have nothing to do with us and everything to do with them. We can choose to find empathy for anyone because we have no idea what they are going through. 

Our thoughts, emotions, and plans are all choices we make, and things we can shift at any time. A little reminder as we head into the weekend and as things bring us joy, or anger, or sorrow, or glee. It’s all a choice and whatever you are feeling is valid, just remember that you can choose again at any time. 

I love you, I hope you have a wonderful day, weekend, and everything in between. XOXO, CAMDW

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