Patricia Volk, writing a book review for the O Magazine, puts it succinctly (if a little drearily): “whatever you opt for, something gets cheated. That’s what’s known as the human condition.”
There’s a place, on everyone’s graph, where life’s indifference curve intersects with life’s budget constraints. For practical reasons. Like, I cannot be in two places at once. Or, I have only 24 hours in my day. Or even, I don’t have all the money in the world. I would like to, but I don’t. And, while we’re at it, I can only pack in this much emotional energy into my humanness. I’m limited that way.
My friend C said it to me some time ago, elsehow. She remarked that, whereas I was focused on healing the present anxiety, once I had found a solution, I would find that I was only choosing to take on the other. Choosing one anxiety or challenge over another. Or some such. It was very thought-provoking and all that.
So much pressure, these days, to multitask infinitely with our lives. To be and have it all. Which is probably why I intuitively recoil from the quotable quote given prominent place on Michael Hyatt’s Blog that proclaims, unabashedly, that multitasking is dead, while all the while hovering anxiously over it, casting a wary eye at it every time I’m in that neighbourhood.
Now, the verdict is out. John Medina has inserted his book, Brain Rules, into the conversation, perhaps driving the last nail into that coffin.
(Not that it’ll die, just because it’s dead. If you know what I mean.)
But, back to where I wandered from into this.
I’m beginning to come to terms with the choices I’m making. And to be pragmatic. And to consider that, while I’m at work, wistfully thinking about that pile of books that I’d love to bury myself under (unliterally, thank you much), that what makes it possible for me to buy those books in the first place is this daily slog.
Another thing, another angle. I was lying on my couch one day recently, revelling in the space, the silence, the solitude, and drinking in life and thanking God for where I am and what I have. Then the very next day, I was longing for a life partner, a co-conspirator in life, someone to share the moments with. I looked at the evidence and realised that I couldn’t have it all all the time. If I always want space, silence and solitude, then the partner thing can get pretty hard to pull off. And if I want to seriously commit to him, then I’m going to sacrifice some of that space and solitude.
I have to choose. Life means that you choose, and in choosing, you write your own nuanced story which is as much about what and who you left behind and why, as about where you are and how you got here.
Choices choices choices.
Women wondering if it’s worthwhile cheating promising careers to dedicate themselves to bringing up their children. Women feeling as though they are cheating their children in order to pursue promising careers. I have vocally opinionated friends on both ends of this continuum, and many more who people the middle ground.
African-American women, standing at an historic intersection: if they prefer Barack Obama, does that mean that they betray all that is woman in them? If they lean Hillary-ward, are they being unforgivably disloyal to the epic African-American struggle?
It is possible to torture ourselves endlessly with the thought that we won’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone. And then it’ll be too late. (It is song lyrics, you will notice, that come to haunt me in my night.) But in the end, so what? So what if I’m cheating this in order to be faithful to that other thing. Well then, I’d better make sure that other thing is worth it. And I’d better make sure I give it all I have and make it count for something.
Opportunity cost and all that.