“Everyone has choices to make; no one has the right to take those choices away from us. Not even out of love..” Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes
Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely? (Daily Prompt: 32 Flavors) Yay, an ice cream question! But it could just as easily be saying - Black or White, Right or Wrong, or a million shades of grey?
The minute we open our eyes in the morning we’re faced with choices – simple, complicated, life defining, meaningless. Sometimes we think we don’t have a choice, but that just means we’ve already made up our mind about whatever it is. And that’s our choice. Other times the shere number of choices available is overwhelming and paralysing, so we cross our fingers, close our eyes and point, hoping for the best.
On the grand decision-making scale, which starts at wishy-washy and goes all the way to carved in stone, I like to think of myself as being somewhere in the middle with a fair and open mind. (Hey, it’s my choice to believe whatever I want about myself, even if I’m wrong, right?) But I do think it’s important to listen to more than one side of a story, to consider sources, and to respect the choices that other people make. None of us that I know of has reached the point in life where there is nothing left for us to learn.
I once read off all the flavours listed on the board at a Baskin-Robbins store at the request of my then five year old daughter so that she could decide what kind she wanted. I thought she might choose oreo cookies and cream, pink bubblegum, rainbow, strawberry shortcake or cotton candy. She was a little girl in love with hot pink, lime green, every shade of purple, and eating drink crystals directly from the package. But what do mothers really know? Not everything, that’s for sure. Except it’s a given that their kids will constantly surprise them. When I finished reading the long list I was prepared to make a shorter one to help her decide, but she only needed to hear it once. I’ll just have vanilla, she told me. (Really? That’s the perfectly white ice cream with nothing in it, you know.) I know, that’s the one I want. And so that’s the one she got.
I suspect it was the one she knew she would be getting in the first place, and the recital of the ice cream flavour list was merely to satisfy her curiosity as to what else was out there. Or purely to make her mother do something time-consuming and ultimately useless in the name of love. Now she’s much more an adult of the “something else entirely” genre. But still making her own informed choices and living with them. It’s all any of us really want for ourselves. My own ice cream choice has always been boringly predictable - chocolate in some form or other; fudge brownie, jamoca almond fudge, tin roof, rocky road. It’s lovely to have some chocolate choices, but it’s all still chocolate at the end of the day.
What a luxury it is for us, to live in a world where there are so many choices and where we are free to do what we want to do, and be who we want to be. Even when there are limits imposed, no one can tell us how we must react, or make us feel any way other than how we ultimately choose to feel. Maybe one of these days I’ll go way out on a limb and try baseball nut. or lemon custard. Or maybe I won’t. It’s my choice. And how wonderful it is to be able to make it.