A friend of mine uses an Urdu/Hindi word that roughly translates to “episode,” usually used in the context of a medical condition, like a seizure, to describe what happens to our relationship with our families from time to time. My family and I went through such an episode today. I’ve finally hit a state of relative calm and happiness after several rather difficult months, and they’ve decided that this is the perfect time to start pressuring me over getting married…Again.

It’s been a long battle spanning several years. My parents started on this subject when I was very young, soon after I graduated from college. It’s a very difficult question on both sides, and we always hit an impasse. I hurt my parents by saying I’m not interested in getting married right now, getting married is not a priority in my life, and particularly not to someone they introduce me to simply because that person is a descendant of a lineage with the same ethnic and religious background as mine. I refuse to restrict my dating pool to my ethnic group. It’s just not how I was made to be.

As far as they’re concerned, I’m betraying them, their expectations, our culture, and really hurting them by a) not wanting to get married right now and b) by refusing to restrict my dating pool based on ethnicity and religion.

They’re terrified I’m going to regret my choices, and wake up one day and realize that my choices were all mistakes. My greatest fear is that I’ll give in to something that is fundamentally wrong for me because of the pressure and then wake up one day to realize that I hate my life because I didn’t fight for my own choices. At least if things go wrong in my life now, I’ll only have myself to blame.

The most constructive effect this has had is to jolt me into being productive. Yay, angst can be turned into something positive.


So, the world’s dealt a few more cards and I wonder how these will affect the turn of events over the next few months and years. Sometimes I wonder how much scope there is for free will in life, and whether we even have a choice or any influence over what happens in our lives.

A lot of biologists stop believing in free will after they start working in the life sciences, as choices could merely be interpreted as your genetic make up interacting with your environment, and the rest is up to stochasticity. A few religions, such as Hinduism, eliminate the concept of choice as well by invoking ideas like Fate, or God. Is choice merely an illusory concept that we humans came up with in order to prevent ourselves from having a collective nervous breakdown?

Or does choice really exist, and if it does, what is its basis? How do we choose what we choose? How do you settle on the best decision, or is that simply something we look back on after a series of resulting events have passed and rationalize? What is regret?

With modern lives that throw opportunities and changes our way constantly, the concept of straightforward and obvious choices may have been eliminated completely. What is the most important thing for a person? Does it vary from person to person? Or do we have one common priority in life as a species?

If I had to pick my strongest drivers, I think I would settle on the following three in no particular order: happiness, music, and the people that I love. And I think I can narrow it down further–with music and the people that I love around me, I think I could be happy. Is happiness a choice that we make in our heads?