3 Choices.Posted: September 28, 2012
Maybe it’s too much college, maybe it was that sorta watered down Calvinist church my family went to for a while, maybe it’s something else, but I think I’m a bit of a determinist.
What’s funny is that theoretically speaking, I don’t agree with determinism, and whenever it came up in its various forms and in various situations, I’d often go into these nice little diatribes about it, and how it was plain wrong.
Because, I (usually) argued, without choice we wouldn’t be human.
But here’s another thing that makes us human: we often think we believe in things, but we don’t actually put these things into practice.
So what happens is that when life is pretty happy and good and everything, I think I’m in control of things, and I take more initiative, and everything’s awesome, and it’s all down with the determinism or predesination and all that.
And when life is pretty not-happy and not-good, I think I’m at the mercy of the forces of the universe; maybe I did something to deserve these bad things to happen, maybe not, but regardless, I’m screwed. I’m a victim. I’m the ant under the glare of some mean little kid with a magnifying glass, and there’s no way out. I can crawl around trying to get away, but ultimately, that kid with the magnifying glass is bigger, and I can’t get out.
To sum it up: I’m not the glass half-full kind of person.
My experience is probably the result of many years of baggage, but I don’t think that my response to bad things is necessarily unqiue to me. I think this response is probably common.
I recently asked someone what I should do in the face of this bad-stuff; when I’m feeling discouraged, frustrated, and like my life is going nowhere, and Someone told me that when it comes to the bad stuff in my life, and the bad feelings I have, basically I have 2 choices: 1.) Man Up. 2.) Get Help. Someone said that’s it; I don’t get a third choice, even though I want one.
I’d like to posit that Someone was still wrong, because there is a 3rd choice: Do Nothing. I think that’s the choice I wanted.
Now I know Someone was actually right; Someone was saying that I only have 2 worthwhile choices. Two Hopeful Choices.
I wanted (and I’m used to) the Hopeless Choice. And really, we’re all making choices; the choice to not act is a choice, whether you’d like to admit it or not. And part of why we’d like to admit that is because of the other thing that has now defined humanity: we’re sinful, and we choose sins because we humans have choice (see above); and we also don’t like to take responsibility for things because we’re human, and we’re sinful, and we choose not to, and it just turns into this circular and non-productive reasoning.
So there’s this comedian (Tig Notaro) who I find very funny; she has this dry humor and monotone voice, and she’s awesome. And she recently did a standup that Louis C.K. said was one of the best performances he had seen in his 20 years in the business.
And she gave this performance the night following a Stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis.
This also followed what she described as the worst 4 months ever: she had some health problems that put her in the hospital for a while, her mother died in a freak accident, and a relationship she had been in ended. Then she found out she had cancer.
She had those same three choices, and really, most of those things that happened to her really weren’t under her control; she didn’t have much choice. But she did have a choice: she could Man Up. She could Get Help. She could Do Nothing. Or to simplify, she could: 1.) Do Something or 2.) Do Nothing. She did something, and it may have been the defining moment of her career.
At the center of my beliefs as a Christian, there is supposed to be Hope and Faith; by doing nothing, I ignore that center and let my old self take over and tell me I’m beyond help or even action. There’s this trendy saying that the opposite of goodness or holiness is not evil but apathy, and I guess there’s something to that. But maybe it’s more like apathy=evil.
I guess what I’m getting at is that this whole Choice Campaign business we’re doing is so essential: we make choices every day… or we choose not to choose. And I don’t want to be that apathetic person unwilling to do anything anymore.
(If you’re interested in Notaro, here’s a clip from Conan where they talk about what happened):