“The messed-up part is: it’s my decision, so why do I feel so damn helpless?”
“Well, having a choice isn’t the same thing as having control, ya know. When you don’t have that in your life, it can make a person pretty crazy.”
“What do you think I should do?”
“Well, I can’t tell you that, but, personally, I do tend to lean towards the devil I know.”
-Will Lexington and Deacon Claybourne
Season 3, Episode 15, “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”
What do you do when you have an impossible choice to make, and everything you hold dear is riding on your decision?
Well, if you aren’t able to find or create a miraculous “ideal” option, then the answer is simply: make your choice and live with the consequences.
Not that I advise rushing into anything so pivotal. Take as much time as you have available to make your choice to the best of your ability. Examine your situation, decide what is most important, and don’t be hasty. But the worst thing you can do is make no choice at all, because then the choice will be made for you, and you will be the worse for it.
That hesitation, I think, is most dangerous to us partially because we feel like we don’t have any real say in our own decisions. Sometimes, there is a certain amount of truth to that. We don’t have any say over the situation that is handed to us. We can only control our own choices and attitude.
Sometimes the most advisable option we have can only be described as the lesser evil, “the devil you know.” It can be foolish to choose the one you don’t know, but, then again, it can also be brave and exactly what is needed. As Deacon says, he can’t tell Will which option to choose. He can only share what he himself would do.
As he says, that feeling of helplessness, especially when it really is our decision to make, can make us a bit crazy. Which makes us frustrated, angry, and depressed. We have to deal with that feeling somehow, before it eats us alive, and the first step is to take control. If nothing else, we must begin by controlling ourselves.
As long as you control yourself, you can face anything life throws at you with dignity and grace.