Saturday, 6 February 2010

Choices and Sacrifices


I’ve been wrestling for months trying to find a way to articulate these revolving thoughts, but I’m tired of trying to pin them down. I’m presenting them as unfinished business, as open dialogue. Maybe, through another’s insight, I’ll be able to conduct more enlightenment.
We live in an outcome based society, forever focusing on what we can achieve, where we can end up, and the predicted end result. The so-called “Now Generation” is incapable of living in the moment - living now - when constantly focusing on our perception of our future. We make life about control, reducing it to an equation as placid as ‘A + B = C’, where  ‘A’ and ‘B’ represent choices and sacrifices, and ‘C’ represents the product of our actions. I’m not denying the knowledge of “every action has a reaction” as truth, but more simply the fact that this equation is missing a number of variables. Otherwise put, life isn’t quite that black and white.
In speculation, I would first like to point out that this A, B, C equation is nothing more than what I’ve concluded from a lifetime of observations on how people attempt to create their lives. People are [generally] aware that their behaviors have results which form their scenarios and they choose their behaviors [often] on how they want the results to look. Now, this is what I wish to appeal – the outcome based decision making.
Believe me, I understand how ludicrous that last line must sound without explanation – doesn’t it just make sense to organize your decisions based on what you want to see in your life? Isn’t it obvious that one would want to pursue a goal (C) and make a plan (A and B) in order to achieve that goal? Isn’t that what we’ve been taught our entire lives? I know I have. I didn’t skip the C.A.P.P classes that taught me about S.M.A.R.T. goal setting and I was definitely surrounded by those posters with the motivational encouragement telling me I could do anything I desired with just a little more practice… just get a little more control over my life.
But I’m going to take a stab at bursting your well-designed and nearly bullet proof North American bubble that has encompassed you and  the “pro” goal-setting mindset.
See, I believe the most important realization is not that our actions have outcomes, but that ALL actions have outcomes. Meaning, the equation isn’t so simply ‘A + B = C’, but a little more like this:
While I realize the female side of me seems to enjoy making everything way more complicated than it is, this is not what I’m doing by presenting this formula (nor is this meant to represent anything other than a confusing equation with multiple variables NOT to be taken literally). I believe a lot of things in life come with simple answers; what I’m trying to point out here is the idea that with so many interactions and variables constantly streaming through our lives, how do we continue to blame or congratulate our measly actions when the results begin to unfold? Half the time, we aren’t even aware the results have started unfolding!
Yadda, yadda, yadda, I could argue forever on the topic of understanding how little control we have over our lives and the world around us, but I’ve learned that only those who are realizing it for themselves can really comprehend the words. Others who are stuck in the idealism that they are the ultimate producers of their future just hear white noise and argue with a defensiveness of no rational other than socially fed mental pollution. Bold of me, no?
To tear apart the placid, black and white analogy of decision making further, we must not deny that actions have multiple reactions; I’ll frame them as rewards and consequences. In my moral relativistic nature, no matter how ‘A’ and ‘B’ are made up, there will always be rewards and consequences – the equations must balance (duh, that’s why they “equate”). We can’t have excess amounts of positive on one side, without negative on the other side to balance it out, but that is childhood learning (despite that we try to deny it as such). In realizing that we aren’t the only ones adding to the equation on either end, we must also realize that our outcomes not only affect other peoples’, but that ours’ are greatly affected by others as well.
Let us pretend I won my battle in proving we don’t and can’t have complete control over our lives:  I’ve been given lots of great advice over the years, one of my favourites being from my best friend – “We don’t determine the outcome, but simply guide it.” I love that one because it allows me to hand over the frustration and disappointment while reminiscing in the self-manufactured achievement… or does it? Trust me, I’m in no way denying this as amazing advice, I’m just digesting it a little more thoroughly these days.
Here is what I’m proposing – what if we stopped worrying about ‘C’ altogether? And no, I’m not advising making wild, volatile, care-free and spontaneous decisions at any given moment (I would never even idealize that as sustainable.)
Here is what I’m trying to do at least.
I want to take ‘A’ and ‘B’. My sacrifices and my choices…
And I want to focus on those…
I want to make my decisions and my behaviours representative of who I am,  what my values are and of my beliefs…
Without fear of an unwanted outcome. Without gambling on a “sure thing.”
Because if I do that… if I’m continually trying to be honest with myself and the situations I am in… and I formulate my little and possibly (in)significant impact based on my solid virtues…
… won’t the outcomes be balanced to equate that as well?
… won’t it all even out?
… won’t my outcomes be as genuine as my behaviours?
To have an open discussion with me on this topic would undoubtedly end up on my theories of people trying to predict their future through any means possible – science, astrology, psychology, religion… even relationships - but I’ll save those thoughts for another overtly lengthy blog post.
This whole topic of thought trailed from journaling about how manipulative I feel our society has become. So rarely do I meet people who simply do something because that’s what they feel now, rather it’s people (myself often included) who conduct their behaviours to facilitate an outcome, especially in person to person interactions. And isn’t that manipulation? Isn’t that… a different form of deception? Isn’t that… not real?
I value real.   

“Here is to the inestimable freedom of owning nothing other than our choices.”