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Life – a Continuum between Chance and Choice

Source | | Chithra Vijay

My 7-year-old niece ran up to me complaining, “my mother is making me cry!” After giving her a warm hug, I held her away from me and looked at her. I wondered what would be a befitting response and instinctively took a mildly playful approach.

I said, “Oh, you mean your mother has a remote control for you? And it has a button for your tears and another for your smile?”

I was amused at the instant change in her expression; she looked back at me with slightly widened eyes; I knew something had hit home! I held the silence for her to take in the new angle.

Eventually she said, “No, she doesn’t!”

“Can anyone make you cry? Or smile?”, I asked.

At this, her frown deepened; I could see her tiny mind processing it.

“No!”, she said.

I paused again and asked her, “Who has the remote control to your tears and smiles?”

She broke into a smile and almost shouted, “I have!!!”

She hugged me again, a quick one this time; and was off to play with her sisters.

We see life as binary – only two options

What this sprightly little girl has learnt at seven, has taken years for me; in fact, I could say, ‘work in progress’, as I still, at times, struggle to find those shades of grey between chance and choice; between losing control and being in total control; between despair and hope!

It’s interesting that we think of situations in terms of either/or, black/white, yes/no, flight/fight! Is it probably because it’s straightforward and uncomplicated? Or perhaps because we swallowed our opposites in kindergarten so wholesomely? – big/small, happy/sad, fat/thin, pretty /ugly!

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