Summary of the Article
The article by Dan Lewis is about the mystery of making decisions on various choices in life. In the article, the author uses a story to illustrate how life is full of choices, yet it becomes hard for a person to decide which choices are best for him or her. In the story, he says that they went to his Auntie’s birthday party, where there were all forms of foods and dishes for every person in the party to choose what to take.
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On his part, he sampled almost everything on the table, ending up with a mixture of food which according to him was very appealing to the eyes but not fulfilling in terms of taste. This made him say to the cashier that his meal was “confusing”. On a later date, he shared a story based on what had happened in the party with another friend about how life is challenging in that it presents people with multiple things to do, yet it is not possible to do all of them.
The mystery lies on the fact that yet there are many things which can be done by a person during his or her life time, people do not have many opportunities to do them because it is not possible to do everything which is available because it is not practicable, and if we try, we end up having a very diversified life, but one which is not fulfilling. At the conclusion, the author recommends that the trick in life is ‘to make only a certain number of choices, sufficiently varied yet sufficiently compatible’ meaning that we should only limit ourselves to a limited number of choices in life and ignore the misleading desire of wanting to do or accomplish everything (Dan 295-297).
Writing Prompt for “Life is a Smorgasbord” by Dan Lewis
As per the above summary, life is just like a menu which presents us with a multiplicity of choices leaving us with the daunting task of deciding what to pick from the menu. As a matter of fact, I usually find myself in a dilemma similar to the one presented by the author of the article when deciding what’s important in my own life as I make choices for my future.
There are many things in life which I like and wish to do, accomplish or undertake in terms of career, social relationships, economic activities like business, leisure, charity work among others. If it were possible, I would have all of these. But since it is not possible, I must come up with some criteria of deciding what is more important than what, when and why.
One of the criterions which I use in deciding what is important in my life is what is referred to as opportunity cost. With this, I usually list everything which I want and desire. Afterwards, I do a cost benefit analysis of all the options, listing the costs and benefits of everything. Eventually, I usually pick the option or choice with the maximum benefits and minimum costs. When I talk of costs, I mean financial, social and psychological costs. Some of the costs like psychological costs are difficult to quantify and in this case, I usually consider whether the choices would stress me or not before making the conclusion on them.
Another criterion which I use is the availability of opportunities. For example, I usually like travelling as well as education. Both are very important to me but they have some financial costs, which makes me prioritize education to travelling with the thinking that after completing my education, I would be able to travel wherever and whenever I want. But sometimes, I’m usually invited by my relatives to accompany them for holidays in various places and when this happens, I never hesitate to capitalize on the opportunities so as to quench my desire of touring different places as I continue with my studies.
I also consider the effects of any decision I make on my health. This is because I know that good health is very important for the enjoyment of life by any person. There are things which may compromise my health and for this reason, I’m usually very selective when choosing what to do, when and for how long and why. For instance, while it is a fact that smoking is a lifestyle lived my most of my peers and close friends, I usually take care not to smoke because doing so would later affect my health. On the same line, since it is a fact that I like dancing, I usually avoid places which are overcrowded with people because it is easy to contract tuberculosis, especially if the places are not well ventilated.
Finally, I usually base my decisions on what is important on morality, which is about my conscience. There are many things which people do to others for selfish interests. On my side, I usually put morality ahead in every decision which I make. For instance, I know that it is morally wrong to bribe my way out to pass an exam or to have my taxes waived. Although bribing my way out may not be noticed by anybody else except the one who receives the bribe, my conscience usually warns me against the same, and even if others are doing it, I usually find myself doing what my conscience tells me, that is, do what is morally right, irrespective of who is seeing or not seeing me.
Dan, Lewis. “Life is a Smorgasbord.” The Writer’s Way. Jack Rawlins. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. 295-297.