Hard Road of Resolution

The story of our life is penned in the ink of our choices.The story of our life is penned in the ink of our choices.

This is a universal truth, such as the one which says, ‘we are what we eat’ or the other about chains and weak links. Every one of us can reflect back over our past and point to moments of decision where the result eventually snatched us up and swept us off like a raging river. Maybe it was choosing to get in that car after one too many and now you have a record – or worse. Perhaps it was betraying your boss by taking that other job then later finding out they were going to pink slip you anyway. Some of these moments we still lament over while others we regard as epitaphs to our genius. Either way, their significance in channeling the course of our life can’t be underestimated.

I often play a game with my elementary age children as a way of testing their grasp on this concept. I present them with an option; the choice itself is of minor consequence because the lesson is what really matters. Each alternative will come with a reward and sacrifice. For example, do their chores now while their friends are outside playing and go see a movie later, or play with their friends now then do their chores but no movie at all.

To the minds of an eight and ten year each option has an equal weighting. “I really want to see that movie, but Tommy is playing outside RIGHT NOW!” My daughter, the ten year old, is a bit more thoughtful. She often wants to think about it while my son is quicker to pull the trigger. But lately they have started huddling amongst themselves to weigh the ups and downs as if contemplating a corporate merger.

What I enjoy most is seeing the struggle as they consider the pros and cons of each, and as with most kids I sometimes have to remind they can only choose one. Almost to the point of mental exhaustion, after each has presented the other with their argument for and against, a consensus is reached. The most amazing and gratifying part is how they usually choose the better of the alternatives.

I say ‘enjoy seeing their struggle’ because I’ve been in the same precarious and unenviable role of choosing between two competing possibilities. When one decision seems on the surface to be just as favorable as the other, but like my kids I often remind myself that I can choose only one. We’ve all been there. It’s those times when all I really want someone, usually smarter and grayer, to look me in the eye and say, “Kyle, this is what you’re going to do…” Maybe it’s a career change or financial decision; regardless it presents us with what feels like a life-or-death dilemma where one false step in our search for resolution can send us careening off a cliff into disaster.

•♦•

In as many weeks I’ve had two conversations with men about their own quest for resolution. Each story shared commonalities. Both had a relationship problem and both believed the decision they chose was the hardest they’ve ever made.

As if reading from the same script they grieved, “Breaking up with her was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.”

Which I responded to both “Then you probably made the right choice.”

•♦•

Is it just me or have you also noticed that what we believe were our toughest decisions end up being some our best decisions? When after the dust settles we are able to look back with a sense of satisfaction that while the moment was painful we were able to do what needed to be done when we didn’t know if we could.

I can affirm this in my own life. After struggling for months on whether or not to give in and grant my ex wife a divorce I’m now very thankful I said ‘yes’. Or when I turned down that more lucrative job offer and burned a bridge in the process, then a year later discovered that had I accepted I’d be unemployed today.

From my experience I’m now convinced that when we are faced with those agonizing dilemmas; the times we immediately recognize whichever choice we make will have life altering consequences; it isn’t the competing choices themselves we are deciding between, instead the clash for resolution is a battle between conscience and emotion.

In each story the conflict these men faced was much deeper than merely severing the relationship and everything that comes with such a decision. Both men were vehement the relationship was over, they had laid out their rationale; now the challenge became overcoming the screams of objection from their emotions in light of what their conscience was whispering was the right thing to do.

Our emotions have this remarkable way of compelling us to doubt every decision we make for what seems no other purpose than its own satisfaction, be it pride, anger, greed, or fear. Even in those times when we’ve considered all the consequences, listened to the advice of others, and set forth our justifications, why do we still wonder if we’ve been too hasty, not understanding, too brash, judgmental, or arrogant? Why on the road to resolution do we knowingly take the wrong and hard way even though we understand that as we write the pages of our life it can never be done in pencil?

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3 responses to Hard Road of Resolution

  1. You know I’ve also pondered this…though not in exactly these words!

    In my journey, I remember that it was me that walked away from the dinner table at the restaurant we had made plans to eat at…a week after she walked out of the life of my son and I.

    That alone gave me a lot of strength…but also confused me… It was me that actually walked away from a pathetic reconciliation attempt on her part, during which she pointed out everything that I did wrong, what I did to her, to “make her” walk out day. Yet days, weeks, months, and even well over two years later now, I still have moments of ‘Why did I walk away…?’ I loved her that much, yet I walked away…then tried to walk back to her.

    Emotions run as deep as the love we had…err…the love that we think that we had. In my case, through my rebuilding, I learned that everything she ever was, everything she ever said, everything she ever wanted, yadda, yadda, yadda…was nothing more than an illusion.

    It didn’t hurt any less… I mean realizing you fell in love with an illusion is kind of like a swift kick in the nuts when you aren’t expecting it!

    But I digress…

    I don’t think that emotion and consciousness are two different things… Truthfully, I think that they are inseparable. However, you need to evolve to a point where you can control the emotion side. Otherwise you have a situation like a Yin without a Yang, a Pisces swimming alone, or a Gemini without his twin.

    The road to getting there…to evolving into something more than what is ‘normal’ or expected of you as a man in the world today is no easy task…

    – Innominately Yours

  2. Kyle Bradford – Author

    “I don’t think that emotion and consciousness are two different things… Truthfully, I think that they are inseparable. ” – They may very well be inseperable because we can’t completely rid ourselves of our emotions, (who would want to?), but they are vastly different. Conscience may go by another name – still small voice – which represents the truth in that it doesn’t scream but whispers.

    Our emotions on the other hand have a megaphone.

    How else, than a total distinction, can we explain addiction. Let’s use porn for example, from prior experience. Even then I knew it was wrong and would swear to myself that I was finished with it; only to be drug back into that other world. My still small voice would tell me what I was doing wasn’t right, and I knew it, but I did it anyway. Because of the emotional high it gave me, though fleeting.

    Look at the worst decisions you’ve ever made in your life, and I will almost guarantee you they were acted upon from an emotional state (anger, sadness, lust, etc.)

    Thanks for contributing.

  3. There’s a Chinese legend that a man has a furnace in his abdomen, in which he must consume his suffering.

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