Trade Offs


 

I don't know for sure where this path leads, but I think it might take me to the United terminal.

I don’t know for sure where this path leads, but I think it might take me to the United terminal.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the novelty of having long nails for a change. Today that grand experiment officially came to an end. I finally decided to cut my nails, not because I couldn’t stand having them long anymore, but because I’d decided to start practicing the bass again. Trying to play the bass with long nails is like trying to write with a fork: sure, you might be able to get your point across, but a lot of other points are likely to be coming across as well.

Maybe it is possible to play a stringed instrument with long fingernails, but I’m certainly not good enough to do it. I sounded like I was trying to strum a dulcimer.

I was a little sad to see the Can-I-Handle-A-Manicure experiment come to an end, but I think the trade-off was worth it. And really, what is life if not a series of trade-offs? I’ve been thinking a lot about the trade-offs of life lately. It suddenly seems as if quite a few major life decisions are lying before me and all of them call for a certain amount of sacrifice. Do I want to seize a new opportunity even if it might make me anxious and overwhelmed? Do I want to give up on an old project that I haven’t worked on in a long time so that I can have a clean slate? Is now the time to push forward or is now the time to ease off?

It turns out that many of these decisions are not in my hands: I can contribute my thoughts and I can lay out a plan, but in the end I won’t be the one making the decision (or, at least, I won’t be the only one). Maybe this is true of all decisions in life and we just don’t realize it most of the time. It is easy to see why humanity has struggled with the idea of destiny vs free will when so much of our lives is left to forces beyond our control.

What this means, though, is that I don’t know the shape of my future yet. Sure it is true that we never really know what our future is going to hold, but we often have a sense of what it should be. I thought that I would find this uncertainty to be unpleasant and stressful, but instead it seems to be rather liberating. My uncertainty about the future is helping me to focus on the present: to do things now because I don’t know if I will have time to do them later. Like practicing the bass. Like relaxing without guilt. Like reading my library books. Like getting all my paperwork squared away.

Which reminds me that I have paperwork to get squared away. And then maybe I’ll read a book and take a nap.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 9, 2014.

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