This post was originally published on Young Men’s Nation.
We’ve discussed this before on the site, but it’s worth mentioning again and again: Our life is just a series of choices. Even not choosing is a choice. When we choose one thing, we miss out on others. That’s a fact of life.
But there’s a way to view a choice we’ve made as not simply a loss of other options. Thinking like that’s going to leave you on the fence, hesitating and wondering and blaming yourself for not making the “right” or “best” choice. This might happen in your choice of college (it’s not prestigious enough, it’s not enough of a party school, it’s not serious enough academically), choice of girlfriend (her butt’s too big, her butt’s too small, she’s too nice, she’s too self-centered, she’s too _____ or not enough ____), or choice of job once you graduate from high school or college. But what if there is no “right” choice?
Enter a hairy rockstar to drive my point home…
You guys probably haven’t heard of Brant Bjork. If you were about 15 years older and listened to heavy rock music, you may have heard of his first band, Kyuss, where he played drums. Many people credit Kyuss with kicking off the musical genre known as “stoner rock.” Two former members of Kyuss (Nick Olivieri and Josh Homme) then went on to form Queens of the Stone Age, who have had lots of mainstream success (including playing with Nine Inch Nails and Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters at the 2014 Grammy Awards), so I’m guessing most of you have at least heard of this band. After Kyuss, Brant Bjork went on to a solo career and a brief stint in a band called Che. I think he’s still kicking around doing various musical projects.
I can’t vouch for Brant Bjork’s character. He’s a rockstar, so that may very well mean he’s had a crapload of enticing, pleasure-filled distractions thrown his way, including easy sex and drugs, which means he may have been an asshole to get what he wanted, because it was so easy to do that without many consequences. This doesn’t excuse his potentially crappy behavior, but it might explain it. Or maybe he was able to fend off all the distractions and be a good dude.
Regardless, he absolutely drops some serious wisdom in the opening lines of the song “Blue Demon” from his days as the frontman of Che. Listen to the full song below on YouTube:
Did you catch it?
“Pick a road, man, ’cause they’re all the same.”
I think you gotta seriously let that sink in a little bit, because I can only imagine many of you are a) either in your junior or senior year of high school and freaking out (or completely emotionally shutting down) over questions about which college to go to (or whether to go at all) or b) in college, and now you’re freaking out about how to “do what you love” in a job that aligns with your “passions.” Which classes to take? Should I get sucked into a relationship if I’m just going to move across the country for a job? Should I study economics or history or try to do both? And on and on and on.
I am truly sympathetic, because I obsessed over the question of “how to do what I love” from roughly age 16 to age 30. That’s a long-ass time to think and think and think and hesitate and wonder whether the grass was greener somewhere else. And it hopefully will come as no surprise to you guys that it made me fairly miserable.
So, be nice to yourselves for a moment and take a deep breath and let go of being so self-critical if you’re in this freak-out (or emotional shut-down) mode right now… but then try to simultaneously realize that the question of how to find fulfillment in this one life you get is the fundamental question that should be sorted out before any other. So you can’t let it slide and avoid it either. Can you have compassion for yourself but also be disciplined enough each day to figure out the answer to this? That’s the “and/both” approach that’s way better than “either/or.”
So what exactly is Brant Bjork getting at here?
It think his basic point is that regardless of what choices we make, any one of them can provide us meaning and growth, if we look at it the right way. Just pick a road… Take that job that seems like it might suck or be “below” you. Give it a shot with a girl or guy who you think may not have enough in common with you. Go to the college that you think might not have enough art classes but seems to be a friendly place to spend four years. Whatever. You might die tomorrow, so do your best to think over your options for a bit, but then just go for it. Time’s a wasting.
Pick a road, because ultimately, they’re all the same: They teach you about what you like and dislike, and teach you that life can be complex yet meaningful in even the tiniest of moments.