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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Paint By Numbers (Or Not)

The other night, I got together with a couple friends and we enjoyed a fun activity - Paint By Numbers Care Bear posters. When complete, mine should look a lot like this:

Aside from the fact that the paint that came with the set was not the best, and the paintbrushes we were using were not incredibly adequate for the intricate details of the poster, there was another reason mine didn't turn out as the kit intended. I don't believe in painting by the numbers. As an adult, I feel like I can choose which colors go where just fine all by myself. It's funny, my friends had no problem following the numbers - it makes life easier to not have to think about and decide which colors to choose. Having someone else tell you what to do just gives you one less decision to worry about. And when it comes to something like paint by numbers the stakes are not so high and the autonomy (word-of-the-day) given up is not so critical. But when the stakes are higher, it becomes more of an issue. How can a person give up their decisions and let someone else make choices for them? I see this a lot in the Torah world - a person runs to a rabbi with the most basic of situations. I am not talking about things that have real halachic significance here - I am talking about the daily minutiae of living life. How can one become an adult when all the hard decisions are made for you by someone else? I am not saying that everyone should follow my lead and not follow directions at all, that would probably make the world unstable, but I think part of being an adult is making your own decisions and learning how to deal with those decisions. It is great to get advice from others; and to be able to talk to a wise person and receive input. But I have a problem with leaving decision making to someone else. Only you can really decide what is best for you. And I think the process of making difficult decisions allows you to really get to know and form who you are, and offers opportunity for major personal growth. I know I don't always make the correct choices; many times I make mistakes. But the choices I make are my own, for better or worse.


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