On a pool table, if you can measure the exact speed and direction of a moving ball, when it hits a stationary ball you can predict with almost complete accuracy the motion that will result in both balls, as well as where they will come to rest on the table. Why? The laws of physics dictate how moving objects react to outside forces—like other moving objects, gravity, and more.
Human beings have brains and souls that enable them to make their own independent choices, and yet—tragically—most people make few choices. They simply react to the people and circumstances around them.
Example: somebody does something to you that is selfish, unfair, and enormously inconvenient. Immediately—before you can even formulate a sentence in your head to describe what happened—you become angry. You did not make a choice. You reacted to an event as mindlessly as one billiard ball reacts to another. I see this happen every day, often many times a day, and I hear about it far more often.
So, if we have the ability to make choices—to a degree exceeding every other object and creature in the universe—why would we reduce ourselves to the level of billiard balls? Because choices require preparation.
Although I went to medical school and studied the anatomy of the brain, I did not study it in the exquisite detail required of a neurosurgeon, nor did I practice operating on the brain for the six or seven years required in that specialty. Because of my lack of preparation—both in knowledge and practice—I cannot choose to safely remove a brain tumor, while a neurosurgeon is able to make that choice.
Choosing how we respond to people and circumstances requires similar preparation. If we are taught a variety of productive responses to difficult situations, and then we’re loved until we’re strong enough to make them, we can begin to make genuine choices about how we respond. We can rise far above the level of billiard balls and choose to feel loved, loving, and happy.
Read more about the nature of making choices here.