Brief Yet Endless Choices

Making choices is possibly one of the most difficult parts of life; good or bad, there’s something so permanent about a choice. For me, pursuing art is a choice between expression and suppression. Do I follow through with what my intuition is telling me, or do I hold back because, well, sometimes it’s scary?

I believe that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said it best with:

Choose well. Your choice is brief, yet endless.

 With that summation of a choice’s time versus its toll, I couldn’t help but be drawn in. The act of making the choice is so significant to the process, yet so insignificant in the grand scheme of the decision itself.

The act of choosing defines our internal struggles, our values, and our desires. It forces us to evaluate truths that we’re otherwise able to ignore, and essentially face reality because we must choose one or the other. The process of making a choice, when we weigh pros and cons, defines who we are and what motivates us. Although the end result, the decision, is the public definition, it’s the method itself that privately characterizes us.

The quote itself is actually Thomas Carlyle’s version; a translation of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehejahre, or Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship, a story about a journey through self-discovery and realization in which the main character leaves his safe job as a businessman to pursue the theater. Needless to say, I found it quite fitting.

Finding out more of Carlyle’s impressions of Goethe made the quote all the more significant to my purpose and my take on it. “In the essay on Goethe, the function of poetry is declared to be the revelation of the ‘inward and essential Truth in Art.’”[1]

The function of poetry is the same as the function in choices: inward and essential.

I believe the opportunity to makes choices are great defining moments for us as individuals, and for us as individuals who want to grow. When a choice is easy it shows your values and when a choice is hard it shows your values, but making a choice is always rewarding if it is, in fact, based solely on your values.

[1] Johnson, William Savage. Thomas Carlyle; a Study of His Literary Apprenticeship, 1814-1831. New Haven: Yale UP;, 1911. Hathi Trust Digital Library. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. <;view=1up;seq=1>.