Choice AND Consequences

I’m undoubtedly dating myself when I say I remember an old game show called Truth or Consequences. Of course, it’s the Bob Barker era of the show that I remember – I’m definitely not old enough to be talking about the original 1940’s radio program hosted by Ralph Edwards. (The only reason I even know about that is from this Wikipedia entry.)

The reason I bring this show up is because I think the game of Life (not the board game – actual L-I-F-E) is a very similar venture. Except instead of Truth or Consequences, the real title of the game is Choice AND Consequences.

In the game show, contestants had to answer a trick question in a very short time frame. The questions were generally impossible to answer, and the buzzer would go off before the contestant could even try to make something up. When the contestant couldn’t answer, he or she would have to face the consequences. Most often the consequences involved some slapstick embarrassing stunt, but sometimes the consequence was a heart-warming reunion with a loved one.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like life?

We are faced with trick questions every day. There are mundane questions, like the one that usually hits me as I’m already en route: “Will I be able to take the short route to Scottsdale or is the Loop 101 Freeway closed today?” Buzzz. You lose. Detour 1 mile ahead.

There are more philosophical questions like: “Can I create my reality with my thoughts?” Buzzzz. Time’s up – you already have.

And then there are the seemingly unanswerable “Why” questions that surround every challenge and loss we face: “Why is my job the one to be cut?” Buzzzz. “Why did I get this disease?” Buzzzz. “ Why did my child have to die?” Buzz, buzz, buzz.

Here’s the thing. In all of life’s situations, it’s not so much a matter of finding the “Truth” OR facing consequences. We’re already facing consequences all of the time – consequences based on the choices we make. It’s all about making a choice AND experiencing the consequences. And then making another choice about how we respond to those consequences, which leads to more consequences.

Of course, I’m not saying anyone consciously chose to lose their job, their investments, their home or their loved one. Usually there are a whole bunch of unconscious choices and beliefs at play. And not all of those choices are our own – after all we each share this planet with another six billion or so conscious and unconscious choice makers. So, as the bumper sticker says, sometimes Shit Happens.

When it does, you can spin your wheels trying to answer the trick question “Why?” before the buzzer goes off, or you can simply CHOOSE to respond – mentally, emotionally and practically – in the way that creates the best next consequence for you.

You see, no matter how tricky the question, no matter how painfully challenging the situation, the choice we make about how we respond makes all the difference. It always makes more sense to choose joy than to choose pain.

So, I guessed wrong and found the freeway closed? Oh well, the extra time on the road can give me just enough time to listen to some of my favorite music. Or I can take a brand new route and maybe I’ll discover a fabulous shop I didn’t know was there. If I CHOOSE to look at this as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience, I completely reshape the consequences.

Sure. That’s easy. But what about the bigger consequences? What about the loss of a loved one? What about the loss of my son? I still have a choice. Yes, it is painful. Yes, I would prefer it didn’t have to happen. But it did. Shall I spend the rest of my life trying to answer “Why?” Or should I choose to experience joy and live the rest of my life fully? There’s no wrong answer. There’s no buzzer. But time is very definitely moving on whatever I choose and even if I choose not to choose. It’s all Choice and Consequences.

So here’s your next question on Choice and Consequences. You have just 3 seconds to answer:

“Is anything inherently meaningful, or does it only become so by the meaning you give it?”

Buzzz. Time’s up. Here’s your consequence: a slapstick pratfall or a joyful experience. The choice is yours.

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3 thoughts on “Choice AND Consequences

  • May 31, 2009 at 8:41 PM

    We are given moments everyday where we choose how life will be..and the consequences of those choices mould us. This winter I was soaked by a truck turning a corner as I stood by my van, the puddle it hit soaked me from nape to toes and filled my unzipped boots with cold slush..I screamed, the truck slammed on it’s breaks and the woman driving hung her head then looked in her rearview mirrow, in that nanosecond I had a choice..I could feel she did this on purpose and walk through the day cold and wet and pissed at everyone or choose instead to see the humour of life and double over laughing so loud, I could see her giggle a little before she drove off..I felt good that she left knowing I was laughing it off..I dumped my boots one at a time as I hopped in the slush giving all the passing cars a giggle too. the clothes I had at work were all mismateched so again the story continued with all my clients all day sharing and laughing. It could have gone in such a dark way..but I always choose life and laughter now..especailly after the murder of my great niece..I can not change things I can only change how I react to the universe..and as Gandhi said…’Be the Change you want to see in the world “

  • June 23, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    I agree with you whole-heartedly.

    I try my best each day to consider how I will choose to react and feel to others and events; sometimes I blow it big time and get suckered into my emotions, but most of the time, I’m proud to say, I am able to see the positive and learning capacity of each and every person/event in my life; even muddy dog prints, scratches on new floors, and dents in car doors give me opportunity to pause and reflect on what is really important in life.

    Last month, when my van was hit by a person speeding through a red light, I had one brief moment, maybe a minute, of panic (mostly because I was making sure the kids were not in the car). Then, when the panic passed, I was enveloped by an overwhelming sense of peace,understanding instantly that in truth I would be alright and that this accident too, like everything in my life, could lead to something good. As a result of the accident, I found a healing chiropractor who is now setting me on the path to physical and spiritual recovery, not only with my recent accident, but with other ailments/issues I have had for years.

    Life is so much about choosing to be happy. A mantra that came to me a couple weeks ago was:
    Decide to be happy and healthy.

    I decide to be happy and healthy each morning despite what is happening all around me and inside my body – my spirit can remain happy and healthy through anything. And when I falter, I choose to forgive myself, and realize that too is a learning process and experience.
    Thanks for the great post.
    Marcie Ciampi


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