If You Like What You Read

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Choose Not To Choose

It recently occurred to me one day at work - though like the amnesic goldfish who's seemingly surprised each time he swims around the same tiny castle in his little fish bowl as if it's the first time every time, I'd probably forgotten it and many other such things too many times to remember - that we can do whatever the hell it is we want. It doesn't matter if it's good, bad, right or wrong, if we want to do it, we can do it. If I wanted to hack off somebody's head from behind with a rusty chainsaw, I can march right out the front door right now and do it. No one or no thing is going to stop me from doing it. Just pick up a newspaper or watch the evening news and you'll see it's true. People are literally doing whatever the hell it is they want and no one or thing is stopping them. Kidnappings, rape, murder, pillage, theft in all their bizarre and varied forms happen every day. Each new, unbelievable sick story is sooner or later topped by some newer, even more unbelievable sick story. So yes, people can, and in fact do, do whatever it is the hell they want. That's kind of scary. Yeah, often the doer is put in jail after the vile deed, but that's a different story. They still went and did whatever the hell it is they wanted to do. Nothing prevented them from doing it. There is though, as they say, a catch. That "freedom" to do whatever the hell it is we want is limited to only two possible outcomes. That which will benefit us from doing so, and that which will not benefit us from doing so. Pare that idea down to the smallest act like just going for a walk and it still holds true. The problem is, too many times too many people don't understand what acts benefit them and what acts don't. Mostly because they start with the wrong premise about themselves and their particular situation and then get confused, thinking up is down and down is up and back is forward and forward is back. Either that or they're suicidal self-loathing maniacs.

Whether that realization above was ironic or just damn shameful for someone who'd worked in a jail for over fifteen years I just don't know, but I knew there where no other choices, no other possibilities. Everything we think, say and do either helps or hurts us. There simply are no other possibilities. Help or hurt. And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I know or in any way, shape or form want to be the judge and jury of what any one does or doesn't do. I sure as hell don't that's for sure as hell. It's enough to manage one life let alone any others. Nonetheless, the number of possible outcomes does not change. That idea can paralyze you at first until you also realize, it's really not that big a deal if you're a reasonable person. If you're not though and you're stubborn, the type of person that always has to have their own way in everything... well, you're asking for trouble in MONSHO*. Fortunately I wasn't. And that's another reason I agreed to help McMullen escape jail. It actually was a reasonable request when you got right down to it. He didn't belong there, and neither did I. So why not help each other get the hell out of hell?

So how do we know which way to go, what to choose? Decisions, decisions. Should I get up out of this chair right now, stop writing and go to bed? How do I know what to do at any given moment? Well, put quite simply, after many years of experimentation, I've come to the strange, yet cathartic conclusion, I don't. I don't know what to choose. I don't know what to do next. Thankfully though, that "I" that doesn't know, doesn't really exist. That "I", or ego, as some philosophical, religious or spiritual disciplines might refer to it as, is simply a hodgepodge concoction of erroneous beliefs and immature imaginings. In short, thinking. Thought. I think. Therefore I am. Confused. Fortunately though, I've discovered there's a "me" or an "I" beyond the thinking, beyond mere thought. And that "me" or "I" knows exactly what to do, and in fact, does it, and is doing it right now, all the time, automatically, without effort, regardless of what "I" (the other aforementioned one otherwise sometimes known as the ego) thinks or believes. It, the "real-I" I'll call it for the sake of calling it something, is always doing what it should be doing and I ignore it at my own peril. Not because it's mad at me for ignoring it and is going to punish me. No, I ignore it at my own peril because it's me. And even more than that, the source of me. It's only when I don't listen or pay attention to it that I end up doing the "wrong thing". Now before all you metaphysical experts, wizards and gurus jump down my throat and insist I'm still talking about the first alleged I, the ego-I, when I try and bring up the real-I, I realize there's only one "I", always has been and always will be (or no "I" if you like to take the zero-sum-game approach), but in attempting to describe the indescribable, I believe I'm getting closer to realizing that I can't, and as a consequence, ending these long seemingly unending attempts to put into mere words what for the most part, cannot be put into mere words... so just humor me for now.

So it's actually freedom from choice that we want. (Kudos to Devo for putting the idea so nicely into a song.) Or maybe just freedom from the wrong choice? But if we had that, would there be really any choices to made other than this good thing or that good thing? And is that really still choice as we currently know the word? Actually, what's so bad about that? Choice without fear. Choice only exists as long as we believe there's a choice to make. Something better to choose than what we already have or is already happening to us at any given moment. And obviously we do believe there is, because we keep having to make what we consider "important" choices all the time. Like not hacking off some stranger's head with a rusty chainsaw. Is that circular reasoning? I don't know. You choose. Or not. Choose not to choose. I don't think it really matters when you get right down to it.

(*my obviously-not-so-humble opinion)