On the phone with a wise woman this morning (hi, mom) I was reminded that things just are what they are. No need to get all worked up about it, results of choices, realities and uncertainties alike. They just are what they are. Kind of refreshing in the larger scheme of things in which we I constantly ascribe so much meaning to stuff that really just is what it is – no need for ridunculous reflective creation of relevance, because it could always be something else to someone else.
Sage advice fo’ sho’.
It’s like Steven Wright says: “On the other hand, you have different fingers.”
Depending on your position with regard to entanglement, interconnectedness, existentialism, the space-time continuum and such, the tendency towards “what if-ing” and establishing false causation will vary greatly. As for mental exercises: Fabulous. For much else: Um. Whatever. I like to do the thing where you go… “I am here because this happened, which only happened because this happened, which would have never happened if this hadn’t happened, which was a result of this happening, which in turn was caused by….” You get the point. Fun, yes.
But on the other hand…
My 9th graders read Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder this morning and then we had a discussion about the (literal and figurative) Butterfly Effect. I’ve talked about this before, and while I like to think I am an existentialist, sometimes a nihilist, often absurd(ist)… in reality, I constantly find myself faced with freakish synchronicity and bizarre continuity that can only be attributed to some larger interconnected existence. So, if you got through that sentence, that is my story and I am sticking to it. If you roll the proverbial ball down the hill, then yes, its course will be irrevocably altered by the smallest of deviant pebbles, rivulets, bugs and plants. However, if you reverse engineer the experiment there is no way to say with certainty what led to the deviations and so the discussion is pointless and circular (if not fun – depends what you are smoking doing.) Things are what they are. In some cases there are clear causes and effects, in others we turn to speculation for no other reason than future contextualizing (I think we call this “learning.”) It certainly takes a lot of retro pressure off to stop trying to pinpoint the exact moment at which you “stepped on butterfly” – really, who’s to say. I mean, yeah, like you are Marty McFly. You go back in time. You start messing things up (like by making all those sequels). You ignore the paradox of time travel. You make a mockery of quantum entanglement. You know what? Things were probably going to be pretty messed up for you anyhow. And when that ball rolls down the hill, who can irrefutably say that it didn’t end up in the exact same place it might have with no alterations. The journey is a little different, but can you categorically say the end point is?
Sure, the point may lie in the journey rather than then destination.
But on the other hand…
Eckles should have stayed on the path; that was the consensus of my class. [Though one student pointed out that his detour was warranted because he was freaking out in the face of a T-Rex.] Bradbury’s presentation of the revised future was subtle enough to be absolutely frightening. Little changes over time… slight deviations. And then – BLAM! Idiocracy.
But on the other hand,
….you may find different fingers.