Opinion: Losing choices

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As youngsters, many of us would lament what it was we might decide to surrender during a religious observation of fast and penance. For some, it was chocolate – milk or candy. For others, it would be the intentional deprivation of a beloved activity. The PlayStation or television would be switched off for a bit. Still, in most cases, our lives functioned largely the same. We tended to replace one indulgence with another. Although one can rightly say that the reminder of the sacrifices that led to the commemoration was present, which is good, in all, we suffered little.

In a conversation with a friend who recently found his way out of a rough patch, he lamented that he “could have lost it all.” While compassion led to an empathetic interaction, it begged the question: What really might have been lost? Surely, his was more intense than not being able to have an evening glass of chocolate milk. But, can we lose our family? Can we lose our property? Can we lose our freedom? Can we lose our health? Can we lose our sanity? Can we lose them all?

If the world were so ordered that each hour for 10 days we were required to sacrifice something we hold dear, how would we let them go? Could we? In most instances, we identify our top priorities and claim to stick to them. Still, we spend inordinate amounts of time attending the things that we believe inconsequential. So, if we turned this game on its head and thought seriously about what we would sacrifice – and how deeply – if times were truly tough, what would remain after 240 such choices? PlayStation, television, chocolate milk and candy might be easy. But what of the others? Is it more about what remains than what is lost? 

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