“A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well – or ill?” – Steinbeck

We are the choices we make. The biggest choice is whether or not we choose to believe in the importance of our own choices, or if we rely instead on the orders of others or on some conception of fate, in either case, denying our responsibility for our own lives and shunting it off either on others or on the world around us.

I hope my choices add up to having done good well, once measured, weighed and balanced. That’s not to say all my choices have been or will be, but that I hope, and choose, to do my best to ensure most of them are.

07 May 2012

What do I need?

That’s such a broad & loaded question.

I’ve always had a sense of myself. This inner intuition has guided me even when the path has been murky or otherwise risky.

Let’s be honest — getting engaged at 19 and married at 20 was a risk. A big one. But I took it in full recognition of that risk and in full knowledge that both my needs & Jean-Guy’s would change with the years. I made sure our vows reflected that, and our ceremony music, too. Jean-Guy and I had countless conversations about being realistic & humble in our expectations for each other and our marriage.

I have always known my needs & dreams to be malleable and tried to prepare him as much as I could, all the while knowing that the man does not make much progress with hypotheticals.

And here we are — my needs are evolving. He is still and always will be a central one, but the landscape is shifting, & I’m struggling in explaining exactly how because I’m still trying to pinpoint it myself.
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“What motivates our investment in goals and planning for the future, much of the time, isn’t any sober recognition of the virtues of preparation and looking ahead. Rather, it’s something much more emotional: how deeply uncomfortable we are made by feelings of uncertainty. Faced with the anxiety of not knowing what the future holds, we invest ever more fiercely in our preferred vision of that future — not because it will help us achieve it, but because it helps rid us of feelings of uncertainty in the present.”
“Consider any significant decision you’ve ever taken that you subsequently came to regret: a relationship you entered despite being dimly aware that it wasn’t for you, or a job you accepted even though, looking back, it’s clear that it was mismatched to your interests or abilities. If it felt like a difficult decision at the time, then it’s likely that, prior to taking it, you felt the gut-knotting ache of uncertainty; afterwards, having made a decision, did those feelings subside? If so, this points to the troubling possibility that your primary motivation in taking the decision wasn’t any rational consideration of its rightness for you, but simply the urgent need to get rid of your feelings of uncertainty.”
“The effectualists include the cook who scours the fridge for leftover ingredients; the chemist who figured out that the insufficiently sticky glue he had developed could be used to create the Post-it note; or the unhappy lawyer who realises that her spare-time photography hobby, for which she already possesses the skills and the equipment, could be turned into a job. One foundation of effectuation is the “bird in hand” principle: “Start with your means. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Start taking action, based on what you have readily available: what you are, what you know and who you know.” A second is the “principle of affordable loss”: Don’t be guided by thoughts of how wonderful the rewards might be if you were spectacularly successful at any given next step. Instead — and there are distinct echoes, here, of the Stoic focus on the worst-case scenario — ask how big the loss would be if you failed. So long as it would be tolerable, that’s all you need to know. Take that next step, and see what happens.”
“Uncertainty is where things happen. It is where the opportunities — for success, for happiness, for really living — are waiting.”
Stop Making Plans: How Goal-Setting Limits Rather Than Begets Our Happiness and Success