Friday, August 19, 2011

Gambling with Life

Naturally, my ideas about what I'd be doing today went out the window (which opens, but not wide enough for someone to defenestrate themselves) starting out first thing in the morning. But it worked out great. Tomorrow I'll have to do some careful picking and choosing--lots of panels and events that I'm interested in are going on simultaneously. We all try to make the best use of our limited as we can, but just how limited our time is becomes highlighted when we're at a multi-track event. Or, more grimly, when we get bad news at the doctor's office. I can make myself crazy trying to make the 'best' choice, so I just try to go with my gut. If that fails, I just pick and hope it works out, knowing full well that I might have spent my time better doing something else. You've got to live with what you choose, and live with what you get from what you choose.

The casinos highlight that, in a way. Choosing to play one more game, hoping for a better outcome than the last dozen. Choosing to play one more game after a win, hoping for a 'winning streak.' Either way, the day is spent in a chair while waitresses feed you cocktails ...

I'm not judging, though it may sound that way. Our everyday lives are often just like that, even though the setting is the same. The daily job grind. Commuting. Doing the little daily things that make you happy, like having sex or eating dinner in front of the television or surfing the web. The only thing that makes the ritual of daily life bad is regret. There's a balance between pleasure/contentment and consequences. For me, I wouldn't get enough pleasure from gambling to balance against the pain of losing precious resources that feel tighter than I like as it is. As for the time I'd lose--that's a no-brainer. I don't value gambling enough to spend the time to engage in it.

Well, maybe a dollar and a few minutes.

But I do value sitting in on panels, and wandering through the art show, and swimming and hot-tubbing, and drinking exotic, silly drinks. For someone else, these would be a total waste of precious time and resources. I can't say that they're wrong--for them. The best thing, I think, is to occasionally check with yourself to make sure that the equation truly balances the way you think. And if you're wrong, well, that's life. We can't always be right, and we can't always win. But we can learn, and maybe even change for the better if we think it's worth the effort.

It sounds like unusually (silly) philosophical stuff considering I started out talking about what I'm going to do tomorrow, but it isn't. It's pretty simple, actually. Too simple to be wise. I don't think it has enough elegance to qualify as common sense. If choices become too much of a big-deal, then the joy and simplicity of daily life gets bogged down by too much weight. But I think that choices are best if they're active and awake choices, rather than wishful-thinking and passive. Either way, though, once made, those choices lead to experiences that are dictated in-part by chance. And that, my friends, makes gamblers of us all.


Josh K. said...

We are where we are, because we choose to be there.

Kai Jones said...

I count as lost a week in which I did not manage to do anything creative. I resent strongly the reasons that sometimes happens. And I spend some good portion of my life minimizing the possible effects of those reasons.

My coworkers think I'm morbid because I sometimes mention that I only have a certain number of weekends left, and I don't like to waste a weekend on illness or doing things I don't want to. I'm not morbid, I'm taking joy in every moment. (There's a reason I like Epictetus--it fits how I already think about stuff.)