I’m a doctor and most things relating to social sciences are like greek to me but one definition I never let go of in my short romance with econs in secondary school was the definition of the ‘Opportunity Cost’. Why was it not lost in the sea of memories amongst the experiences and distractions I encountered long after it? The teacher was a burly, boring, igbo woman with too much makeup and surely there was nothing striking about the way she said it, yet I can still tell you clearly that the only two words that aptly describe it are the ‘alternative forgone’. Why I wonder? Could it be because many times in life I have made choices only to consider the alternatives after they have taken the next flight to Milwaukie and it suddenly seems like the scales have been removed from my eyes, leaving me pining for what is no more? Were human beings made to be discontented species or is our failure to stick to a choice made, our most crippling flaw?
I remember as a child, having dilemmas where food was concerned. Yes I love food and that is something my gym instructor will never understand! I often had to pick between different candy with brightly colored wrappers and my mum always insisted I take only one. (What a shame!). As would be expected, the shiniest wrapper always caught my eye and I was disappointed every time by the propaganda of shiny goodies that didn’t taste so good (The all that glitters ain’t gold theory) but fell for it every time. After the sweet was hastily chewed (for I never developed the suck-a-sweet skill required to prolong the life of the treat in my mouth), I’d spend long minutes mulling over it, wondering why I hadn’t picked the one with the blue wrapper instead! They all suddenly seemed like sweets straight from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. After tales by moonlight and its foreboding stories about the ills of picking the largest calabash, I finally learnt my lesson or so I thought…
Everyday, we are faced with the dilemma of choice. Should I go through Ikorodu road or Third Mainland bridge to avoid traffic? Should I stay or leave a relationship that looks like it is heading nowhere? Who should I commit to among the bevy of ladies vying for my attention? Should I make a move or stay put? Should I take a risk or keep to the status quo? Whether man or woman, we are constantly faced with questions needing answers and often times we unconsciously make decisions in milliseconds based on appearances, past experiences, rationalization, instinct and logic often times regretting our actions and having to make the most of them with a wistful look on our faces. Sometimes the alternative forgone could have been a crappy choice but the fact still remains that we’ll never know and this gives our imaginations free reign to paint them in beautiful colors and exciting shades. The man who marries the woman he thought was the best there was for him and considered himself the sharpest guyman in town stares longingly at the chick he let go of when he happens to jam her at a party looking all fly on a day his wife is bloated with PMS and winning the award for nag of the year. He wonders if he made the right choice and at that moment the alternative forgone looks so dazzling. We’ve all had our moments. Times when we look at the things we have or the people we have let go of and wonder wtf we were thinking when we let that piece of good fortune strut right by us. Sometimes it becomes a missed opportunity, gone for good, one we can only look back on and bite our tongues over and over again till they threaten to be forgone along with the girl in the miniskirt who liked us a bit too much if we don’t quit chewing on ’em. Other times, the alternative isn’t forgone, just pushed aside till a time when it can be gratefully accepted and thankfully appreciated.
It is said that when the desired is not available, the available becomes desired. This may be a key factor in the opportunity cost theory as many times our choices are dictated by what is on ground and not what we truly want but whether the choice we make is the right one or the wrong one, remembering that the second best option was second best for a reason helps in regaining focus. If you realize that you have made a mistake that cannot be righted and there’s nothing left but to take responsibility for your actions and live with your choice, remember it helps to do so with a smile taking into cognizance the fact that all things work together for your good and even if the only lesson learned is a lesson for fools, be glad your experience is foolish enough to be frozen in time and used to teach the generation who will come after you. 😉 Remember the story of the fox who tried and tried to get the grapes off the top of the vine but they were too high up and after jumping and jumping and rolling in the dirt every time he fell, he picked himself up, dusted himself for the last time and with all the swag he could muster he said aloud in case anyone was watching with scorn that he was sure those grapes were sour and not worth his trouble afterall! We ought to learn from the fox when we find ourselves crying over a choice unmade. Dust yourself, shake your head and say I am sure that choice would have been the wrong one for me. Sometimes sour grapes are the key to contentment! 😉
There are a minority of people, mostly phlegmatics who are easy going, laid back, nonchalant, unexcitable and relaxed and would rather sit deliberating on their choices over and over again than take a stand. Often times they wait for the varied options to eliminate themselves one at a time or expire or for events to carry them along, calling it fate or divine destiny and justifying their lack of action with baseless quotes. Man always makes a choice and whether you do it consciously or unconsciously, you commit yourself to one of them. Action and reaction are equal and opposite and if you choose to react instead of act, you blaze your trail though you may end up with an outcome different from the expected. The most important entity is taking responsibility for your actions and seeing the world as a maze with a great number of paths, every one leading to its own destiny. Today when you look at F with the onion hips and J with the intelligence and charisma, pause for a minute, willing your brain to calm down so that you can spend more than a millisecond making that choice and consider the long term effects of the choices you make. It is easy to live for the moment and being an impulsive person, I can relate with that but we must remember that not all alternatives that are forgone can be retrieved.
As I sit on my bed typing this blog my mind goes to the choice that awaits…eba or suya….sigh….why can’t we have it all? 😉
Shout out to F who inspired today’s blog post. Have a great night peeps….xoxoxoxo 🙂