Are you uncertain about the perils of what lies ahead—uncertain of what the future may hold? Do you feel like you are standing on the edge of a precipice—a dangerous bottomless chasm and no way to retrace your steps? Are you facing monumental life-altering choices with irreversible consequences? Are you an unmarried teen, a parent, or a child seeking virtuous answers to age-old questions about the value of human relationships?
We are all faced with uncertainties and difficult choices in life. The most complex and wearisome situations occur when we sense that we are on the edge of a cliff. We are uncertain how to react when we are teetering on the brink of the abyss in a situation that is likely to end in a complete wipeout. Many of us have been in a situation, a street, a corridor, or a blind alley that has no exit; occupied a position with no hope of progress; held a dead-end job offering no possibility of advancement; or lived in a bad neighborhood. We all agree that it is terribly frustrating to be in a situation with no exit and no way out.
Some individuals profess that ‘ignorance is bliss’ but they are cursed with restless souls. Uncertain of the facts or history, they shun responsibility and prolong decisions because they know not how or when to act. Facing an infernal hell with a wide and profound discrepancy between the different people in their lives, they feel hopelessly lost. They sense they are missing something, but they seek answers to difficult questions in all the wrong places. The orphaned, fostered and adopted child who grieves for a life that could have been perceives their life’s trajectory as severely and inexplicably altered through no fault of their own. The pregnant, unmarried teen without money or legal authority may be overcome by a sense of hopelessness. Adoptive parents feel threatened and hurt when they perceive their adopted child as thankless because they express a desire to reconnect with their biological kith and kin, culture, and heritage.
The most important lesson I have learned in life is that happiness is derived from making good decisions ‘before’ we are required to act. To live a good, honest, and fruitful life, we must learn to anticipate what comes next, know what it is we are seeking, and understand the differences between satisfying our basic survival needs, our souls and our flesh. We must discern the facts and choose wisely; use emotional intelligence to anticipate the unexpected and understand the sublime; and do our best to prepare ourselves for worst-case scenarios. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The wise person acts with empathy when weighing the alternatives and evaluating the consequences and makes timely choices based on what is fair and beneficial to all concerned.
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