I haven't done a "Get Ahold Of Yourself" in awhile and I have been battling a bad case of choice apprehension for my entire life, so I thought it appropriate to talk a bit about it. Indecision, y'all. Let me preface this by saying I've been reading a lot of philosophy lately*, and by "a lot" I mean way more than I usually do. "Usually do" should be taken to mean none. It never occurred to me I could explore modern philosophers. Until recently, I don't think I realized that there were active, important philosophers philosophizing round these parts. The last philosophers I remember learning about formally were of the ancient variety, and my brain kind of lumped them together with Greek gods and gravity scientists.
As it turns out, there's a whole host of great thinkers out there that don't wear big white robes or have big white beards or guard the gates of heaven with big cartoon lightening bolts. I haven't even scratched the surface of all this, but I look forward to many hours of reading the same page 10 times to kind-of understand some fundamental truths in the years to come.
The two modern philosophers I'd like to touch on today are Alan Watts and Amy Poehler. You may already know Alan Watts from Spike Jonze's Her. If you haven't seen it yet, what the hell is wrong with you. It's been out for over a year and won a lot of Oscars, for shame, but Her also has a lot of cool philosophical and reality-based science fiction elements to it. It's a human film for humans. Alan Watts was one of the under appreciated philosophers of the 20th century with roots in Eastern traditions and counter culture America. He heavily influenced Jonze's film, just as he's heavily influenced my brain.
Amy Poehler is -- wait what the fuck, Amy Poehler? This Amy Poehler?
Yes. Amy Poehler. I'm only partway through her book Yes Please, and she's like a freaking cheerleader. A cheerleader for my soul. She offers up great, succinct advice for how we all can be better, happier people. She's such a sweetheart too.
Oh right, decisions. Thanks Amy, we're talking about decisions here. The thing about decisions, for me at least, is that they're often tied to procrastination, which is not at all what I was trying to do here, I swear. An inability or delay in making a decision is a fear of making the wrong decision, which boils down to a fear of failure. Some of this procrastination is rooted in laziness, but for even the most lazy of us, it's hard not to find an inkling of truth in this fear thing. When it comes to something as benign as choosing what I'm going to eat for dinner, I get little nibbles of fear: What if there is something better to eat? What if I don't want to eat this thing halfway through eating it??
Knowing yourself and being confident in what you want is enormously helpful in decision making. The trouble is, for a lot of people, knowing yourself and being confident are two of the hardest milestones to reach as human beings. There isn't a quick and easy cure for this; both qualities are gained by doing. The more you do, the more confident you will be, and the more experiences you have, the better you will know yourself. In the meantime, while all the decision making is going on, you'll just have to aim as best you can and fire away. Scary huh?
Here's the thing, and this is huge: We're in this together.
The world is interconnected much in the same way particles are connected in an atom, which connect further to make matter. Each individual, creature, and thing fits together to create a greater entity. Each decision we make and action we take has some kind of reaction on the whole.
Sometimes reactions are as small as the warmth from the friction created from a foot hitting the ground or the sound waves created by my fingers hitting this keyboard. Other times, decisions can have longer lasting repercussions that can impact the rest of our lives, and the lives of others. Our decisions fan out in a web from ourselves, some decisions tip out only a few millimeters, while others span miles, reaching other people and shaping other decisions we may never be aware of.
Knowing this can have a crippling effect on our ability to make choices. What if this goes terribly? What if I make the wrong choice? How many butterflies in South America will die if I mess this up? I'll buck platitudes by saying, yes, it is possible to make a "wrong" decision. We all have moments of "Whoops, shouldn't have done that." They key is to not dwell on it. What we do everyday effects who we are and what happens in the world around us, but the only way to shape that world is to act. Push ahead with your best intelligence and your best intentions, try not to make decisions out of fear or coercion, and be true to yourself or whomever you aspire to be. Each of us and all of us, as this great beating entity, create new worlds with every passing moment. It's the forward that matters, not the backward.
If that doesn't jive for you, I'll leave you with a quote by someone much smarter than me:
"In many ways when you get down to these very deep ethical problems, where there sure is no easy decision one way or the other, you must look at the problem from the point of view of the artist: which way of doing this is in some sense greater? It may be better to go off with a bang than with a whimper." -- Alan Watts
*Let me preface this by saying I realize how pretentious I sound. I don't care though, because philosophy is tits.