Choices, an elimination game

Someone wrote to me today that they hoped I had done what I did as a choice and not a sacrifice. I hesitated a lot before answering, partially (mostly?) because I was attempting to obey the Rotary rule of ‘kind, true, necessary’ communication, but also because it felt like a contradiction in terms.

Choices are inherently sacrifices. One option precludes another. One decision eliminates others. Picking something leaves the rest discarded.

What might be more important, then, is less was there a sacrifice and more are you content with the sacrifice made?

Can you live with your choices? Or are new ones necessary? The problem, often, seems to be path dependency: we cannot go back to the place we were when the ‘wrong’ (might-have-been-right-then-but-not-right-now) decision was made: we are here, and the choices never stop piling in on themselves, cutting off some pathways and ingraining others.

The myth of the blank slate, the new leaf and the fresh start conspire at times like these to offer you a vision of the perfect future you. This intertwines with late-capitalism’s promise of a self-regulated, continuous-improvement life, where beauty, happiness, fulfilment and, of course, having it all, are merely a few good choices (never sacrifices!) away.

Instead, of course, I (we?) unfailingly enact the same tired scripts.

And, all around, the figs keep falling.

Extract from The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath and illustrated by Zen Pencil (
Extract from The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, illustrated by Zen Pencil 
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