Freedom of choice

You are given the choice between
ten times ten similar bottles of milk,
butter and cream.
You may scan
the shelves filled with soap
unable to tell
which one can wash
your sorrows away;
and you see the tomatoes
and herbs
with only a promise of taste,
and there is salad
that never will wilt
apples, red as a kiss
or aisle upon aisle
filled with bottles of beer
to wash down the taste of ready-
made meals
with water tasting the same
as the one you get from your tap
with choices like that
is it strange
you end up buying
only the things that you already know?

You stick to familiar labels
from familiar stores,
just like your life
you end up never
making a choice
staying chained to the comfort
of never making a change.

Return from the supermarket
Claudio Bravo

Today dVerse has a guest host Christopher Reilley, who inspires us to consider the word “choice” and gives us some examples of how choice can be both paradox (and maybe an illusion). I think we live with the feeling that freedom of choice is often a prison that prevents us from really making changes that are more important in life.

I also give you this music by Devo:

August 30, 2022

21 responses to “Freedom of choice

  1. Funny thing is when there are so many choices, we tend to stick with what is familiar to us. I tend to try other choices by small degrees, closer to what is familiar. But who knows, maybe trying other food and drinks would bring a sense of adventure. I like your conclusion Bjorn, we tend to stick to familiar labels. But at least we have options or choices, rather than not.

  2. Wow, I haven’t heard Devo for such a very long time, Björn – thanks for jogging my musical memory! I enjoyed your philosophical take on the prompt. I know what you mean, but I know what I like and I like what I know. 😊

  3. To much to choose from tend to tug at our comfort zone. This is so true.

    Nice one


  4. Oh, Björn. You’ve captured exactly the realization of so many reaching middle age. One ‘settles’, then abruptly understands at age 55 or 60 or so that settling was indeed their actual choice rather than their choice deferred. I really felt this one.

  5. Choosing one from among too many is a baffling act. But it’s true, unless we’re adventurous, we stick to the same. The same ‘thing’ we know: no surprise there! This poem captured that feeling very well. thanks for sharing.

  6. I don’t mind having choices, I generally take the “open door.”
    My sister says if it is right or left, take the left as it is less traveled. I liked your list, if mine I probably would list is as a list poem.

  7. Wow. I love this poem. It reminds me of being in a small town in Italy where there was only one kind of toothpaste on the shelf. I was so happy.
    Sometimes more choices leave us paralyzed with finding the right one. Many times there isn’t a right one.
    I want to use this poem in a writing circle. I think it will open up a wonderful inquiry.
    My favorite lines,
    “with choices like that
    is it strange
    you end up buying
    only the things that you already know?”
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Sharp insight here, Bjorn, and your musical selection is just right to accompany. Devo is deliciously different. Mothersbaugh is a musical genius — from Ohio, no less!

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