“When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air you suddenly know what you’re hoping for.”
Have you ever been in a restaurant and just not been able to decide what to order? You read through the menu, think, make a preliminary decision, and then go back and forth again and mull it over one more time. Then, you start talking with the other people at the table.
The server comes over, asks, “What’ll it be?,” and in an instant (and panic), you blurt our your decision but have no idea why you chose what you chose.
Or maybe you go through this indecisive exercise at work, or with other, more important things than just tonight’s diner… You put off and put off and put off your decision until the deadline arrived, so you just went with something. You didn’t have any additional information; the only thing that changed was the timing.
Here’s the thing: Anything you choose isn’t the right or wrong choice. I’m theorizing that it was the only choice you could have made. So, no doubt, it was the right choice.
This isn’t meant to be a typical millennial “everyone should get a trophy piece,” but everything you do is arguably the right thing.
Have you ever wondered if you even had a choice in the matter in the first place? You didn’t choose to be born, after all. So, if nothing else, we can conclude that we don’t always have a choice. Things happen, over which we have no control.
Furthermore, think about how much other stuff your body and brain were processing at the same exact time as making the decision to order those tacos al pastor. Conscious processes and unconscious processes alike, you were dealing with an incalculable amount of things going on in your life and that moment. Not to mention the subconscious influence of your previous memories, experiences, and thoughts, and how your brain lets those influence your thought process.
You’re hungry. You’re nervous. You haven’t had your coffee yet. You’ve had wayyy too much coffee today. You got into an argument with a friend before work. Every single thing you’ve ever done. All of these things are inputting information into your brain.
Basically, when some fuel, some air, a spark, some oil, and some sturdy parts are put together and timed accordingly, the engine produces a single output: power. When things get a little more complicated, we see that the fuel quality, the air quality, the timing of the spark, the amount of oil, and the clearance of the piston rings, and other factors have an incredible amount of effect on the power output. However complicated you want to get, the engine is very predictable. If it is set up with the exact same conditions, it will always give back the exact same power output.
Which makes me think⏤ are our brains the exact same kind of machines: input processors, output producers. We just happen to live with them inside our domes.
Of course, it is impossible to test. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 B.C.. said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.”
This is not to put your sense of free will in jeopardy. It’s more to take the stress off any decision you’ve had to make. Being human, we constantly wonder if we are making the right choice. But that wonder is also okay… wondering if you were wrong is still part of being human and will undoubtedly help you reckon with a similar situation in your future. The conflict of being “wrong” and “right” is natural and “right” in itself because this magical conflict in our minds, bodies, and the world, is really what it’s all about.
There is conflict all around us. But let’s zoom out a bit. If you look at a picture of the world from the moon, you wouldn’t see any of the conflict at all. You wouldn’t even be able to tell there was anything living on the planet at all. It would look pretty peaceful. It is only when you zoom in do you see global warming, ozone depletion, and war between nations.
On the flip side, if we zoomed in and looked at our bodies under a microscope, we would see bacteria and blood cells and viruses and acid… it’d look like an all-out raging war field on our skin and in our stomachs, all this conflict going on makes us who we are and keeps our bodies moving day to day.
So what if it’s the conflict that keeps us going? The constant wondering if we made the right decision or whether we could do better in the future. It’s hard to imagine a world where no one cares about anything and just as hard (or easy) to imagine a world at complete peace. Is there such a thing? Or do these constant “choices” keep us going day-to-day on a bodily, community, national, and even worldly level?
Ultimately you’ve got to fight for what you believe in, and make the best decisions you can for a better body, community, nation, and world, but you can’t take it too seriously because you’re you, and whatever you are doing, you are just doing your best.