The Ripple Effect of Choices

We live our lives in a chaotic universe.

Atoms crashing into each other, at crazy fast rates, hyper-vibrations and electric pulses being at the core of our bodies, all working in tandem to get us through our day.
Do they govern our choices? Do our choices govern them? Who is in charge here, anyways?

Many traditional organized religions may express that everything is at the will of a higher power or being, and that we are governed from above.
Some may express that everything is predetermined other than moral decisions, and that is what we are responsible for.

An interesting statement I heard at one point is that “anyone trying to reconcile divine predetermination and free will has a fool’s errand.”

I like to think that I make my own choices about all things, but the subsequent impact of any given choice is pretty much up in the air.

This morning before I left my house, I made a choice of what to wear. Since today I will be presenting a short talk on a professional topic, I chose khaki slacks instead of jeans.

Once I left the house, I had to choose which form of transportation I would take to the office – take a CitiBike, or take one of two trains.

Since I was dressed “nicely” and didn’t want to get all sweaty, the bike option was out. Leaving me with the trains.

Then the choice of which train, and walking towards one of them would bring me to a breakfast cafe where I like to get a morning sandwich sometimes, so I took that option.

I walked in, saw the LONG line for food, and chose to turn around and head to the train instead of waiting. It’s not that great a sandwich anyways.

So I turn the corner, it’s a small alleyway, and a lady is walking about 2 strides ahead of me. I notice that at one point, she pauses, and lets a car coming from ahead pass completely before resuming, and I realize it’s because they are coming at high speed, and there’s deep puddles, s she was avoiding the splash.

A few moments later, another car comes along, and she speeds up, I pause, and try to remain far enough from the splash zone.


She looks back at me with a touch of concern, while I’m spattered with droplets from a puddle of unknown cleanliness, and wrings a wry smile, as I smile back at her and say “I should have done what you did!”

Will the water dry? Pretty sure it will. Will my slacks reamin presentable? Don’t know just yet, still drying right now. Did every choice up until this point bring me here? Yes. Was this the universe pushing me here? I don’t think I’ll ever know.
But it did provide me with a new set of ideas.

Years ago, Life Magazine featured a picture (I spent 20 minutes looking for it online, couldn’t find it) of a pedestrian leaping like a ninja to dodge a monsoon-like splash from a passing vehicle, and this experience immediately re-triggered that image. I now feel like I can further relate to that particular image better, probably reinforcing some neural passageway inside my brain of a long-term memory resurfacing.

It provided me with what might call a “New York experience” since this is probably not the first time this has happened in a small alleyway in NYC, and it most certainly won’t be the last.

This short experience also reminded me that you can’t “ever go back and change something”, despite having a Flux Capacitor. If if you could, would you? I wouldn’t.

It also brought to the forefront that all the choices I’m making today were driven in part by choices I made in the past – one fo which was the choice to speak in front of others.

Your life is made up of the set of choices, experiences and hopefully the subsequent knowledge gained from them. It’s kind of what makes you: You, and me: Me. That’s one reason (of many) why we’re all different.

In short, make good choices. Good is a subjective term to you at the time you have to make them. As long as you take a moment at think: “Is this the best choice I could make right now, given everything else I know from before?” then you’ll probably be ok. We make tons of these choices unknowingly every day.

Oh, and what’s good for the goose might not always be good for the gander.

P.S. This blog post was written during my first attempt at the Pomodoro Technique in a cafe. Dunno how I feel about it yet, but it sure worked to hammer out a post in a focused amount of time.