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I don't think we have any sense of the meaning of the choices we make until long after we make them. We can say that our choices are meaningful in that they are guided by some sort of principles or values that are important to us. However, most of the meaning we take from our choices occurs well after they are made and we can see their consequences. Then we impose a narrative, for ourselves and others, trying to make meaning out of what has happened as a result of our choices.
Your question reminds me of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken," which has often been discussed in eNotes (see the reference link below). I believe it was the psychologist William James who said that people don't usually think until they encounter what he called a "crossroads situation" in life, as did the poet in Frost's poem. Life is largely a matter of making choices or decisions at crossroads. Some of these choices may not be terribly meaningful or significant, while others may be of the greatest significance. The choice of a major in school can lead to the choice of a career. This could determine where you will live and whom you will meet. It will shape your identity. The choice of a marriage partner will be of tremendous importance. Among other things, it will determine who your children will be and whether or not you will be happy. Life is one choice after another. If you try to avoid making choices, that is a choice in itself. If you ask someone else to tell you what to do--that could be good or bad. Shakespeare says, "Take each man's censure [i.e. advice] but reserve thy judgement." Unfortunately, life is like a game of chess: once you make a move you're not allowed to take it back.
refusing other options.
Some choices we make mean nothing. If I choose to wear a white shirt instead of a blue shirt, or if I choose to swim a lap doing crawl rather than breast stroke, these are choices that say nothing about my character. Other choices, though, say something about who we are. Whether I choose to use corporal punishment on my kids, or if I choose to ride my bike somewhere rather than driving. These sorts of choices actually have meaning because they say something about who I am and/or they have an impact on society in some way.
Sometimes, the meaning of a choice is in what we have decided not to do. In one context, this could be like what economists call an "opportunity cost." But in another, they could be a mistake avoided. The point is that, when we are thinking about the decisions we make, we have to realize that every choice we make is a negative as well as a positive act. The meaning, I think, has to begin by thinking about the trade-off we make.
The choices you make reflect the values that you have. We all face choices on a frequent basis, some big, some small. The things we actually decide to do say a lot about us as a person. It's easy to talk and say we'll do something or other, but what do we actually decide to do?
It's like the old saying: "Hindsight is 20/20." Sometimes in the moment, we cannot see the impact our current decisions will have; only in retrospect can we begin to interpret their significance and influence on our lives.
I would say the meaning of our choices is to direct our path. We all make choices everyday. Sometimes small choices can play just as big a role as the big choices. I might decide to sleep for an extra ten minutes in the morning. This decision might cause me to miss a major accident that I could have been involved in had I left the house any earlier. Some choices we know will change our path while others seem to effect us by chance. All choices have consequences. We might not be able to foresee what all those consequences will be, but the point is still the same. Our choices direct the path our future will take.
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