The Burden of Choice
Since the middle of the 20th century choice has become the cobweb in which western society resides. The driver for consumerism and chief supporter of capitalism it is the meeting point of commerce, politics and our personal lives. The axis around which we chase perfection and happiness as along with the goods, we buy the idea that choice is desirable. Choice has become synonymous with freedom – freedom to exert our preferences and spin a life exactly as we wish it to be.
Expectations are raised and goalposts moved as we succumb to the intoxifying lure of possibilities. But too much choice can leave us overwhelmed, saturated with options and oppressed by the burden to make the right decision. Freedom becomes our jailor as complexity leads to paralysis and fatigue. Too much information and too complex for us to be confident we are making the right choices; at worst it leaves a trail of anxiety that we may have got it wrong and at best a background sense of dissatisfaction that we may have missed something better. The thrill of possibility turns to tedium, procrastination, exasperation and ultimately despair of ever achieving our goal and we may in the end withdraw from engagement altogether.
I experienced this first hand last week, spending days at a time staring with increasing chagrin at my computer screen as I attempted to work my way through the hundreds of options and variables a I constructed my new website. More than once I was ready to give up – the sheer volume of decisions I was ‘forced’ to make was overwhelming. Convinced that I might miss ‘the one’ I spent hours scrolling through hundreds of font styles, sizes, UPPER/lower case, bold, italic, underlined, custom – the options were infinite. The anticipated creative experience turned sour and it was only when I took a step back from the keyboard and revisited my original goal – for a clear and simple site to showcase my paintings – that in the end I took control and returned to the essence of my desire.
Surrounded by the vicissitudes of life we hinder further our progress by allowing unnecessary complexities to seep in and saturate our daily lives until the picture has become so blurred that we loose sight of our original horizon. We literally feel swamped by the flotsam and jetsam of choice and anchored down by indecision. The 21st century will not leave us alone, it will not hold back the tide of modernity. But we can discipline ourselves to surf the waves of amebic decisions and only roll with the important ones. We have the ability – the choice – to live our identity unburdened by minutiae and from place where we bear witness as if for the first time.
For more examples of my art visit http://www.rebeccapells.co.uk