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.
As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)
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