Does abundance of ‘choice’ bring joy?

LEGO pieces are highly regulated, within a strict design format

I have to start this piece with the caveat that I do not know the answer to my question. I only have some examples that have stimulated my musing today.

The first example comes from our daily Wordle grappling. We sit opposite each other, first thing in the morning, and try to wrestle our minds into some sort of gear. One of us gets so far along, and then seems to be constantly frustrated by the abundance of word choices that might fit, that could fit, each quite as reasonable as another. Yes, that’s true, but each wrong choice that’s taken also clears the way for the final correct choice. So choices may be frustrating, but they can also be revealing.

In my generation, or maybe it was a particular age during my twenties and thirties, but the concept of choice as being ‘irrevocable’ always felt like a terrible sword of Damocles hanging over me. I wanted to be able to choose again, I think. Maybe it was commitment phobia that I needed to overcome, but somehow I grew able to accommodate to life’s reality. The very act of making a choice inevitably narrows the next choices down from a vast field of opportunity.

In the world of LEGO, there are restrictions on choice. Real life has an infinite variety of shapes, but LEGO is built on specific angles (bricks of 90º, slopes of 45º, sometimes 30º or 15º) and then, usually in every new ‘kit’ a bespoke part that conveys the uniqueness of that particular build. Sometimes that bespoke part can be used in another model, but often not. If you sort your more universally adaptable LEGO components into their genre and type and colour, it will be a lot easier to build things from your imagination than if you have to scrabble around in a box of pieces jumbled in together. My own LEGO studio is quite well organised into a library so that if our grandson is missing a piece in his own creation, I can pretty much always find the right colour and character to fill his needs. It feels like I’ve created order out of chaos by applying a bit of organisation.

Once you’ve figured your way around the various LEGO possibilities, and can recognise that only a few configurations for any larger construction’s shape are possible, you can make an informed choice from the outset. I did just that with a scale model of the complex of cottages and gardens up here in Sparty Lea. Sometimes I had to deconstruct and start again. Such is life, I think.

I don’t know if these sorts of musings might be helpful to anyone else or not, but in musing on these lines, perhaps I’m coming to a sort of personal conclusion. Choice is good, even if the first choice sets you off down an unforeseen path. As long as we can recognise the difference between a good path that leads to success, in love, career, happiness, and one that leads to despair and desolation, as long as we can know ourselves in the present time, realise where we are on that road, then we are still learning. And finally, it seems to me that the only real irrevocability is time already spent. You can never retrieve that choice from the past, but intriguingly, that choice need not necessarily be wrong. Living through its consequences also provides experience that is a life’s odyssey.

The future, however, is still wide open. There may be new joys on the horizon.

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