Do We Have Too Many Choices?

Boy oh boy oh boy. What is life? How did I get here? Whose car is that? Is that your car? That’s a nice car.

I don’t know what I’m saying. Or typing. Whatever. I don’t know anything right now. I’m having one of those days where my brain feels like it’s trying to escape my head. Hold on I have the sudden urge to chew gum. I need to go get gum.

I have gum. I have gum in my mouth. Terrific. I’m going to be okay. I’ve started to exercise more regularly and vigorously lately. It’s probably been years since I fell out of an exercise routine but boy did I fall out of an exercise routine. I feel very sore, and I much enjoy that feeling. I did an ungodly amount of pushups yesterday because the power went out at work for three hours so I had nothing else to do.

It was kind of funny watching people try to open the door to the gas station, realize they can’t, and then look inside and see me doing pushups. Then I would just point at the sign on the door that said “Closed, no power,” but I was really just pointing straight at them because they sign is right in front of their square heads and it’s not my fault they didn’t see it.

It was amazing how mad people got that the gas station was closed. It’s pretty mind boggling how spoiled we are as a species. People just start freaking out the second anything convenient or anything they’re used to having is taken away. I think we have too many choices. I mean I think things are way too convenient and it’s making us pretty depressed as a whole also, but I think we have too many choices.

I was meditating in the walk-in cooler today because that’s what sane people do, and I was looking at the rows of soda. The Coca-Cola sat next to the Pepsi and I wondered why we even have the option of one or the other. There’s a slight difference in taste, but it’s not enough to mean anything. And I began thinking about people who try to order a Coke at a restaurant and the server says “we only have Pepsi,” and how I know their heart sinks just a little bit.

But if there wasn’t the choice, if there was just one Coke Pepsi hybrid (a Copsi?) nobody would ever be disappointed. It’s the expectation that we could have had something “better” or something that would theoretically please us more that creates this negative emotion of disappointment. It reminds me of when I was kid and I went to the candy store, and my mom said I could pick one thing. Ah, such a task! There are so many good options, how could I pick one?

So I meandered my Velcro shoes around the sugar shop trying to find the item I would be most pleased with. I could always get it down to two, but once I had to choose between those last two options, oof! Gummy bears or sour ooze? Gummy bears or sour ooze? Gummy bears or sour ooze? The sour ooze might last longer, but I kind of want the gummy bears more. I really like sour stuff. Should I just get sour gummy worms then? No, I really want the ooze. Okay I’ll get the ooze.

I should have got the gummy bears.

It was always the same pattern. Whatever item I chose was good for a few seconds, but then I wished I had chosen the other one. And it’s silly. I was a child squirting sour ooze into my mouth, I should have been jumping up for joy. But that little bit of regret hung around just enough to keep me from enjoying my sour ooze as much as I could have. And it was only because I had the option of choosing something different. If it was just a sour ooze shop and my mom said, “guess what Jason? Today you get to have sour ooze!” I would have been ecstatic beyond belief.

It’s pretty interesting how our minds can react differently to the same situation, enjoying it more or less simply because of our perspective. I remember the best days for candy. The best days for candy were Friday’s. Friday’s were the best because every day after school, my mom would stop at the market on the way home, which was the only place around that had Zours. If you haven’t had Zours, they’re sour Mike and Ikes and you’re doing yourself a disservice by not experiencing them.

The amount of joy that box of Zours brought me is hardly comprehendible as an adult. But now I understand that it wasn’t the candy itself that brought me so much joy. It was the build up. I knew it was coming. I knew what I wanted and when I was going to get it. It was the feeling of excitement sitting in class on a Friday afternoon and remembering that I get to have Zours in a couple of hours. Actually eating the Zours was awesome, too, because I never considered getting anything else, but it wasn’t anything like the drive to the market.

Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian living in Austin, Texas. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

Leave a Reply