If you’ve never taken a philosophy course or have never watched The Matrix or The Truman Show, or have never really thought that your life is out of your control, you may have never thought about free will and you are totally missing out. Free will is the opposite of determinism. If we have free will, we have control over the decisions we make and our future. It’s opposite, determinism, is in what some would call fate or destiny: everything you will ever to be meant to be will be and is outside of your control. It’s a pretty deep philosophical debate and I have not nearly explored the topic enough to write about it in a school opinions column. But for the sake of this column, let’s assume that free will is real.
Given that free will is real, we can look at life from the commonly and overly cliché but extremely true metaphor or life being a journey on a path. Since this a free will journey, over the course of your life-walk we reach crossroads. At these intersections of the journey, individuals have a choice of at least two different paths to continue their journey. We encounter crossroads constantly throughout the course of our lives and some are bigger than others. For instance every morning, I fight the small battle of deciding whether or not I should/will continue the rest of my life without leaving bed. Other small crossroads include, deciding whether to eat at Dana or the Pub. Crossroads with larger implications are things like choosing a major and deciding whether or not to “finally snap” and yell at the next person who asks “So what are you going to do with that?” FYI: when referring my choice of major, people should not be using the same tone of voice a fashion-forward Medieval Lord would use when referring to one of his serf’s wrinkled and tattered wardrobe (it’s rude).
But decision making can be extremely difficult. There is a lot of stress and consequences (predicted and unknown) with some decisions. Think back to the stress and uncertainty of trying to choose a college to spend the next few years of your life in. Or think about starting a romantic relationship…well maybe that’s too new and exciting. Okay, try to think about deciding between continuing a committed romantic relationship and ending it when you aren’t as happy as the initial “wow this person couldn’t be more perfect and attractive” phase. These are hard decisions.
Life’s crossroads can be extremely challenging and leave you mulling over a decision for a long time. It is really important to think about the decision for some crossroads and also act out of spontaneity for others. But no matter what, the most important part of this metaphor is actually choosing a path! Crossroads are tough because if you don’t end up making a decision you go nowhere or accidentally slam you face into the sign telling you there is a crossroads between the two roads. Neither is really all that pleasant.