I’ve been trying to make a decision recently that’s been unexpectedly difficult. Or at least unpleasantly and abnormally difficult; maybe that’s completely to be expected in this case.
My uncertainty on this score is a reflection of my overall state: in some sense, I feel that I’ve been really off my game mentally for about two years now. I think I’m mostly past the mid-life crisis situation that was going through last year, but its aftershocks are still vibrating. And there have certainly been some new events this year that my brain hasn’t responded to as gracefully as I would like. So, while I’m not entirely sure that I would be less uncertain about the decision triggering this post if I were on my game, I would at the least have more of an appreciation for what’s feeding into that uncertainty.
This decision, like (I imagine) most difficult decisions, is asymmetric. And one of the ways in which it’s asymmetric is a differential of control. In one direction, I feel relatively lacking in my ability to affect the followup context. That’s probably not true—if I were more on my game then I’d have a richer view of the possibility space over there. But, as is, I’m getting overly fixated on subsets of the possibility space which make me feel relatively helpless.
In the other direction, I don’t feel as helpless. That may be a mirage, though: while I’m in control of this specific decision, it may be that, beyond that decision, I’m at the mercy just as much of the winds of chance on that side.
And part of what’s frustrating me is: I feel that, if I were the sort of person I’d like to be and think I can be, being at the mercy of chance would be totally fine. We’re always responding to chance; that’s what makes life fun, there’s an art in figuring out how to best be open to circumstances and respond to the unexpected. (That’s part of why I like playing games so much!) So I feel like I’m playing the wrong game here, that I should be looking at the context from a different level.
But it’s hard to do that when your brain is shouting at you. One of the tricks I’ve done so far is to tell my brain to just shut up for a while, until date X, when I can hallucinate that I might have more information. But I can only play that game so many times before it wears thin.
At which point I can just designate one of the decisions as a default. But I have enough emotional ties on both sides that doing that isn’t so simple. And actually, watching that emotional conflict itself is an interesting process, as is watching my brain shout at itself and my reaction to that shouting.
At any rate: I need something to get me out of this rut of picking dates and waiting. One tactic that I’ve tentatively adopted is what I’m calling the Dread Pirate Roberts approach (or the reverse Scheherazade approach?): giving myself permission to make drastic changes any given morning, in fact working under the assumption that I probably will do that, but in the mean time using that permission to by myself a bit of breathing room to observe the current situation and my reactions to it. (I am not, however, adopting most other aspects of Dread Pirate Roberts’s philosophy.) I’m hoping that that will give me an outlet for my brain to take a more holistic view of the situation.
I’m fairly sure that that alone won’t be enough. Another tactic that has served me well in the past: pull in my external brain. (Or at least actively don’t shut it out!) Hence this post: maybe I’ll learn something by writing about my reactions.
Interesting times. More frequently than I’d like, though, I’ve wished they weren’t quite so interesting…
- November 22, 2012 @ 21:48:32 [Current Revision] by David Carlton
- November 22, 2012 @ 20:31:40 by David Carlton