Where Decisions Take You
Changing one decision can alter the course of your life. Will there come a point when it all starts making sense?
Dear Letter Opener,
Our brains make around 35,000 decisions daily and this newfound knowledge intrigued me so much, I might’ve piled on some extra workload for the poor organ to process. Who would've thought? Our brain's a decision-making machine, churning out an average of two choices every second. So, when you feel worn out after a day that seemed less productive than a sloth on a Sunday, cut yourself some slack – it's your brain doing all the heavy lifting!
Even though most neurons are firing in the subconscious part of the brain to make mundane decisions work on auto-pilot, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the brain is burning calories so that you can function. Researchers at Cornell University estimate that we waste around a minute and a half (227 decisions) on food alone. If you’re meeting your boss over lunch or taking your partner out for dinner, that number significantly increases.
And yet, here we are discussing the power of decision-making in our lives. You see, there are conscious and subconscious decisions and we’re focusing on the former because that’s what where we put effort and thought in. Think of it as mission and vision. The subconscious part of your brain takes care of the mission—the daily routines that take care of the short-term goals. The conscious part, the one you’re using to read and think right now, now that’s responsible for the vision i.e. where you’re going to be, what you’re going to do, why are you going to do what you do, ten years down the line.
This story unwrapped itself in a different realm of my own—where fantasies and realities converge—known to us as the mysterious realm of dreams. In this whimsical realm, my doppelgänger of sorts cheerfully greeted me, revealing a captivating glimpse of what my life could’ve been like if it wasn’t for that one life-changing decision back in 2015.
Eight years ago there I was—a pudgy kid bidding farewell to one of the most coveted colleges in the country, migrating to the United Arab Emirates in pursuit of a better future. Hearts were shattered and tears were shed and I stood there, a bundle of uncertainty… barring one—this decision was going to alter the trajectory of my life forever. Little did I know that I would end up having lived in 3 different countries since the move, and five of the eight formative years without my parents around. Even though I have unparalleled love for my family, if given the opportunity, I still wouldn’t have changed a thing.
But if your look-alike is bestowing upon you the opportunity to view how your life would have been had you not made that decision, especially when you’ve got no choice because you’re in a freakin’ dream, you recap with a smile.
Thank you reading Aamer’s Letters! Subscribe to get beautiful write-ups 3x a week.
So time travel’s activated. I find myself at the crossroads, standing on the precipice of a life-altering decision. There’s a plot twist however… lo and behold, there are no daring acts of courage, no wild adventures, not even a hint of impulsive migration. Instead, I’m leading a life untouched by the game-changing choice. It’s like a cinematic reel of the “what if” moments that we often have daydreaming or wiling time away taking longer showers than usual.
My presumption when I migrated was that my life would fall into the pit of mundanity but there seemed to have been twists and turns at every step even though I hadn’t unpacked my bags in the U.A.E.
I’ve arduously completed my college, passing with flying colors only to walk down the path of engineering this time, instead of the original business route. On my 18th birthday, my Instagram feed is filled with pictures of universities in London as the idea of traveling to a foreign land seeps deep within my mind.
Gathering the courage I didn’t have to originally migrate, I approach my parents with the idea of studying in London. The informal interview of whether I'm ready or not ends with an assuring smile that I will indeed, be going to the United Kingdom to pursue what half the population of the world wants to pursue after complete their high school/college.
I’m off to London, spending four years of my life tirelessly studying to be recognized as yet another Indian who identifies themselves as engineers (I’ve got nothing against engineers… honestly).
But here's where it gets interesting.
After the grueling four years, I see myself taking a sabbatical. Engineering was merely a degree that opened my eyes to what I didn’t want to do. I’m off to Europe, wandering unknown streets, meeting new people, learning about different cultures with a selfish intention of truly learning about myself.
A year of failed self-exploration leads me back to, guess where… the U.A.E. I reunite with my parents and pick up a book that truly guides me to where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing. Even in my dream, my life has reached a point of convergence—a point that’s supposed to balance life, even in multiple realities. Each decision made, each step taken, each thought formulated, leads you to the exact same place at the exact same time even if the path to get there was different.
As it happened, the last thing I saw in my dream before I eventually rattled my hands to press snooze on my alarm, was me in the exact same spot I am right now, at the exact same time, i.e. in the middle of the night, writing this very newsletter.
What I may have realized is, ‘Where you are, is where you were always meant to be, regardless of the direction you took.’