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"When someone chooses something, she also chooses everything that choice implies."


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Home » Features » Living Consciously: The Mastering of Our Future

Living Consciously: The Mastering of Our Future
by Jorge Waxemberg

The most fundamental choice a person makes is what to do with his or her life.

We all yearn to live fully, to express our deepest intention, because we know that this is what gives meaning to our lives. How can we do this? We must learn to live consciously–in other words, we must learn how to choose.

In spite of the fact that there are things we cannot change, we still do have the possibility to choose consciously. This capacity to choose, no matter how limited it may seem to us, is what makes possible the progress of a society and the unfolding of an individual.

Of course, there are aspects of life that we cannot change, the past, for example. We can't even change our own past, much less that of humankind, and we cannot change any of its consequences. The best we can do with the past is accept it, since only by accepting it can we understand our own history and, more importantly, the moment we are living now.

The future, however, seems to be a new and unknown arena. Although we can speculate about it to a certain extent, we can never be sure what will happen. Our area of work is the present. The only way of having some positive control over our future is through our wise decisions in the present. Let us examine that margin we all have for altering the course of events, our capacity for consciously changing the direction of our lives by learning how to choose.

The most fundamental choice a person makes is what to do with his or her life. This choice is made not only with regard to how to earn a living. There is a deeper choice than the choice of a profession–one that affects all our decisions. It is the choice of the level on which to live. That level implies how we will live, it determines the meaning we give to our efforts and our successes. This decision touches every part of our lives and shapes the rest of our choices.

The world one chooses to live in depends on the meaning one gives to one's life. A person who is only interested in himself chooses to be the center of the world. Since in practice this is not possible, he limits his life to the circle of his interests. The rest is only the scenery he can look at, if and when he feels like it. A person who chooses a larger circle has interests encompassing a broader area. Some people choose universal ideals which include all human beings. Moreover, when one chooses the meaning of one's life, one is also choosing the meaning and the scope of one's struggles and achievements.

Once a person's fundamental choice has been made, he enters another level of choice. He has to choose the steps he will take to fulfill his ideal. The person who chooses a profession decides how and where she will be trained. The artist decides how he will fit himself for his work. The technician decides the skill she wishes to acquire and how she will acquire it. These decisions are not less important because they are secondary. They show us up to what point the person is willing to follow the course he has chosen.

Each choice has its consequences and is a limitation. The consequences of one's decisions are usually easy to foresee. The person who chooses a professional career knows beforehand that several years of her life will be committed to study or to specialized work. The artist doesn't choose just the road to fame; he knows very well the effort that choice of life will demand of him. He knows not only that his chances for triumph are slim, but also that very likely he will never triumph.

When someone chooses something, she also chooses everything that choice implies. If I decide to buy something expensive, I cannot complain that it costs too much. If I spend my money on luxuries, I cannot complain that I don't have enough to buy food. Yet not everyone accepts this obvious fact. The person who chooses a selfish life doesn't always understand the consequences of that choice and often complains about the very thing she has chosen. She doesn't want to recognize that someone who doesn't care about others cannot expect others to care about her. She chooses what she wants, but rejects what it implies. She resists accepting that life has pleasant and unpleasant aspects and that it is impossible to separate them.


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