I’m listening to one of the Great Courses: “Lifelong Health.” The lecturer, Anthony Goodman, M.D., tells this story: A man in his 90s liked to go sculling on the Charles River each day. His family said that he needed to stop, that he was too old, that he could fall out of the boat and drown. His reply was that sculling made him happy. And between dying from falling out of his boat or falling out of bed, he would choose the former.
You might view the man as a role model (my interpretation). Or you might see him as selfish, causing his family worry.
But my point is not so much that he made the right decision, but that he made a decision. If he agreed to stay home and eat soup while he watched The Price is Right, he still would have made a choice. He might have told his friends how his family took all the fun out of his life and gave him no options, but he would be wrong. He made the decision to appease his family.
One of the problems of becoming an adult is that we have to realize three things: We have choices. Some of our choices will make people upset. We have to learn to live with the ramifications of those choices.
People will not always be happy with our choices. Sometimes for good reasons. We might be doing something incredibly stupid. And we would be foolish not to take good counsel into account. But still the decision is ours to make.
And sometimes people will want to keep us from some of our choices, out of fear, protective love, or simple jealousy. In those cases, we have to acknowledge that and decide whether we can live with their disapproval or anger if we proceed. It would be nice to be surrounded by cheerleaders, but many of us aren’t that lucky. Still here is the key point: Even if we decide we can’t live with the anger and disapproval, we have to acknowledge we made the choice.
And we need to acknowledge that sometimes we make bad decisions. And spending time trying to find someone to blame is not helpful. Analyze the situation. See what you can do better next time. And move on.