Finding Freedom in Choice
Summertime is finally here
That old ballpark, man, is back in gear
Out on 49
I can see the lights
School’s out and the nights roll in
Just like a long lost friend
you ain’t seen in a while
and can’t help but smile
—Kenny Chesney, SummertimeJuly means freedom! Bare feet, cargo shorts, windows wide open, music cranked up, a ballgame just down the interstate, and lots of time to take life in. A host of traditional events create a lifetime of memories that roll through our minds like a cool thunderstorm brings relief to a warm summer day. It is the season for discovery and rediscovery of the things that remind us why we are alive and that life is a very special occasion.
Of course, in the United States, we recently celebrated our nation’s independence by attending county fairs, downing hot dogs and apple pie (insert your favorite summer dish), and capping the evening under a summer night sky full of colorful fireworks. In July, school is out, vacations are in, the days are long, and we find ourselves actively engaging in a host of choices on how we will spend our days.
This summer I am struck by the notion that freedom is most profoundly reflected in our ability to choose what we will do, when we want to do it, and how we will do it.
While at the county fair on the Fourth of July, I was overwhelmed at the amount of different foods one person could choose from—Turkey Legs, Frog Legs, Funnel Cake, Hot Dogs, Ice Cream, Corn on the Cob, Fried Twinkies, Fried Butter—you name it. Of course, most of these foods could be quite tasty for the moment, but may take a toll on your body for a couple of weeks. But that’s summertime! A carnival of choices!
However, not every choice is healthy or most expedient for our long-term welfare or the well-being of the people we serve on a daily basis. Freedom really isn’t free at all, and there are heavy costs associated with our ability to decide who we want to be and how we will go about living out that being. And while we have so many choices in how we spend our summer days, the quantity of our choices is overshadowed by the quality of our choices.
This summer, at work or at play, let us consider our options thoughtfully. Let us season our decisions with wisdom and the greater good in mind. To be able to choose is a blessing; to choose well is sacred.
Jason Diamond Arnold
Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action