The Crazy You Get From Too Much Choice


I’ve sometimes wondered if many of the books I read are not just piling up more perceptions in my dusty mind cluttered by too many options. Parenting books are a good example. I’ve got a shelf full, and I’ve learned a lot from them – I think.  But in applying those principles I’ve often fallen short. There are certain scenarios with my children that too often have tripped me up, and occasionally my will seems frozen in place as some old reel-to-reel tape appears on my tongue and spits out its ratta-tat-tat song and dance. A revelation I had awhile back about deep seated fear for my children, and its subsequent healing, went a lot further and deeper into me than any parenting book ever could.

As my life goes breathlessly on the only way I seem to really learn by is experience and those inner bursts of knowing called revelation or epiphany. Experience is a hard teacher, but a good one. 20 Steps to Becoming More Like Jesus just never seems to work out for me. I start out fine, but the Bic runs out of butane at around step three.

I think part of the problem is in having thousands of bytes of often contradictory information in my brain; my thought processes just can’t handle that much analysis to spit out the proper action. So I hit a hard situation, try to get through it on my own butane, and the flame goes out because I keep vacillating between dozens of mental options. Joni Mitchell sang of “the crazy you get from too much choice, the thumb and the satchel or the rented Rolls Royce.” That wide variety of options causes brain-freeze in me.

This is why mere mental process and logical thought can’t get me through even a single day. Trying to do it all right isn’t the same as living in the Now. “Trying to get it right” involves the underlying opposite assumption: “I am going to get it wrong unless I try really hard.”

Now, what we take by faith takes us. We manifest that which we really believe. If I believe something is going to be hard, say, parenting, or a gig, or some household job like fixing a door, it will be. My seeing will drive the circumstance, and so my experience will reflect my negative faith. In that sense we often do create our own reality. I believe wrongly, and then strive in my effort against the reality I have created by my wrong believing.

But here’s the crossroads choice. I can live in the Now, in the moment, and expect God’s revelation for that moment. I can see my kids fighting and contact that place inside me where God is love, where Christ is faith, and rest, and wisdom and understanding, and I can know exactly what my children need in that moment without my mind short-circuiting on dozens of options.

In any situation I can throw negativity out on the trash heap and know I can do all things through Christ. All it takes is to get out of the future of “what might happen” and into the Now of “What is the need of this moment?”

I’m all for reading books. I love to read. But the inner attitude I allow determines what I do with all that information, determines whether it short-circuits me or is used by God as a means of opening my mind to deeper revelation, deeper life, and a deeper and more joyous Now.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


  1. Paula Shaw

    Ron, when my family and I lived in Scotland, we used to always hear, “Ach, ye Yanks, ye’re spoiled fer choice”. It took me a while to figure that one out, but as time went on, and we moved back stateside, I realized that, while they would typically get either no choice, or the choice between 2-3 of the same kind of product, we get 3 to 4 to 10 times the choice of the same product! It’s mind-boggling! I too love reading, and I totally agree with what you said about the inner attitude. This was a “good read”! Thanks. =)

  2. Jud

    Ron, this is completely off-topic, but I just bought “Doorway” last week and love it! Thought you’d want to know.

  3. Janna Barber


    Saw you were being featured at a writer’s conference Nashville this weekend. Found out about it too late to attend this time. Would you mind reporting back here how it all played out? Might be something I’d be interested in going to. Thanks!

  4. Ron Block


    Janna: I should be a better promoter of myself. I asked Randall de la Montoya del Goodgame to do the conference with me. It’s tomorrow in case anyone happens to be around.

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