Post: Just let me think for a minute

Just let me think for a minute

Amplify: Fitness. Fun. Friends.

Welcome back to your normal life. As January enters it’s final day and we all collectively tut that it’s already into the second month of the year, I present to you another deadline beating blog if you’re so inclined.

Most of the festivity of the end of year/start of year hoo hah has flatlined and work has been happening and school is starting up again. As the shape of our lives for 2023 starts to come together I’d like to reflect on an interesting silly season for me personally and what I have taken from it.

I don’t know whether it’s a brain thing where we try to be efficient and put things into boxes to save storage space but if I look back on notable periods in my life they all seem to have a theme. The theme for this holiday edition has been: Decisions with no right or wrong answer, in a difficult way.

Let’s explore this, as you must do in a blog, and then come to some meaningful conclusion about modifying our thought processes to better deal with the challenges of life, as you must also do in a blog.

For the first time in about 100 billion years, I live in a house rather than a flat. This is wonderful. I am happy to have a lovely kitchen, some green at the front and back, veggies growing their little hearts out and multiple rooms to exist in. Part of the excitement is also being able to exist in this space with friends, traveling family members and the house has become quite the destination for cooking, eating, board games and mission undertaking.

It’s been super fun and really a welcome departure from being unable to really have any sort of gathering at my old unit. I’ve kind of reveled in it. But there’s always two sides to a coin hey.

As much as it’s been joyful to have people around what seems like all of the time, there come moments when a quiet little introvert like me runs out of social batteries and needs some solo time to recharge.

This leads to a situation where there has been a choice to make between having another fun night of friends and games and laughs. Or having to be the one to say no, tonight needs to be a night off, I need to have some quiet time.

One one hand there is a bad feeling from saying yes and feeling crowded and perhaps overwhelmed in your own space or there is the bad feeling from saying no and thinking you have disappointed your friends and missed out on a fun night – of which the opportunity to indulge in will start to become more difficult once the silly season ends.

In this situation I feel that both choices are understandable. In both situations you are honoring some of your desires. It will be a good outcome no matter what you choose. There will also be a not insignificant cost no matter what you choose.

I also had this situation to deal with just last night: There are family visiting and staying in the house and having a nice night playing some games was on the table. Also on the table was playing some hockey – it’s a good opportunity to train and I want to get in all the training I can before a tournament at the end of March. Also also on the table was a gig at the Odeon with someone who will likely never come back to Hobart again and my friend is going to be alone if I don’t go.

Option 1: Spend time with family. They reside in Perth so it’s not easy to see them often. Miss the gig and hockey.
Option 2: Go to hockey, get in really valuable extra training for a tournament where I am stepping up a level in competition – could be my one trip away to compete all year. Miss all of family time and some of the gig or miss a large chunk of family time and miss the gig.
Option 3: Go to the gig. It’s kind of a once in a lifetime experience but I’m not sure how much I’ll actually enjoy it. Miss hockey and a large chunk of family time.

I was pretty paralysed and torn by this decision all day. In fact even in the days before I was unsure what to do. I was also majorly tired and not feeling the best on the day for whatever reason. So I excused myself from hockey, played (won) a couple of games of Bananagrams with the family and went to the gig just as the headline was coming on, missing the support act. I left the gig three quarters through to go home with Macca’s sundae’s as gifts for everyone and we all went to bed at a not too bad hour.

So all in all it was a pretty great night and I managed to hedge my bets and get most of what I wanted. However even today I feel a bit of unease – should I have stayed home and kept playing fun games and eating cheese? Should I have stayed until the end of the gig to experience the whole thing? Hockey???

The last couple of months have made me realise that as we get older and perhaps start to value our presence and time more, these choices start to have a lot more gravity in our mind. Also that in many situations, there is no clear correct choice. And finally, when there is no clear correct choice it becomes harder to reconcile missing out on the choice you didn’t go for.

The other truth is: In all of these situations you must make a choice. Doing nothing is also a choice here and probably the worst because you miss out on everything.

It looks like we have nicely set the stage for the philosophising and moralising part of the blog now right?

So the question becomes, how do we deal with these choices? They aren’t always life changing, the above choices certainly weren’t, but they are impactful and can weigh on us.

The thought I have kept coming back to, as I lie awake sifting through the infinite possibilities and ramifications of each decision trying to backwards rationalise what I chose, is that I can’t. The puzzle is too hard. Most of the pieces are unknowable. Will time play out and show me that I chose poorly or well? Pretty unlikely as you will never know the dominoes that would have fallen with a different choice.

Sometimes we make dumdum decisions and we know pretty quickly that we done goofed. That’s human and unavoidable and also not what this is. These decisions are more complex and the outcomes are similarly unmeasurable and incomparable.

Which sounds bad, but in a way it’s quite liberating. I still haven’t gotten over if I made the right decision going to half a gig, but the freeing nature of this is I can never know, even a little bit, how a different decision would have played out. I don’t know how I would feel at all. Probably quite similar in this aspect of it.

I play a lot of games and I love the games where your choices matter. Sometimes I get really invested in a game and replay it to see what would have happened if I made a different choice. I used to reload a game if I didn’t like the outcome of a choice I made but I have stopped doing that as it takes the gravity out of your decision. We can wish that life was like that but knowing what would have happened if you made a different choice or reloading to choose again is confined to gaming. Real life has only one playthrough and no quick load option. Yes I hate myself for saying a line that sounds like it’s from an early 2000’s The Rock action movie.

So the moral, if there is one, is this: Tough choices with no clear option are very rarely right or wrong, all they do is transport you to a new reality. You can never truly know what you lost as it is mired in a different reality. All you can ever really know is what you gained. The reality you step into after a choice has as many possibilities as any other. There is no magic moment coming up after a difficult decision to let you know what you did was correct. There is no moment of terror where a hellish gong sounds to let you know that you chose incorrectly. There is only reality.

The choice itself doesn’t matter. It only matters that you do choose.

I hate myself for that line too.

I am not saying this looking to start a debate on fate and determinism. Your choices absolutely do matter and you should put thought into them as they are important – they define you. What I am saying is that once made, you’ll never know if a decision was “right” or “wrong” – not really. You might guess but you can’t know. So if you make a decision based on your values and what is important to you, even if some regret and wondering what if is inevitable, you can step into your new reality with conviction and commitment, rather than hesitation and trying in vain to have one foot in each reality. It is a privilege to be able to make hard choices – being able to see it as such is a difficult mental step but one well worth taking if you can.

I’m choosing to end this here. Bye!