Posted by: Ariel | September 21, 2009

It’s all about choices

There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second can either go forward or fall back.  With a little luck it goes forward, and you win.  Or maybe it doesn’t.  And you lose.

Losing something is not an instantaneous process. It is the accumulation of uncountable choices, and perhaps not all of them were wrong. Yet the right choices are still coupled inextricably with the wrong ones when you look back at the result.  How far back was that one moment in time where your fate was sealed one way or the other?

When you realize you’ve lost something you may not have lost it yet.  There is still a chance it is at the last place you saw it.  It may seem unlikely, but admit it: there is a little hope there.   There’s a little anticipation as you retrace your steps down the branching tree of your decisions to the crucial root, that butterfly on the other side of the world.  There you might find what you thought you had lost, and be thankful that your fright was just a fleeting premonition of what might have been.  Or you might find nothing, and realize that your hope was just a fleeting wish and you cannot, actually, travel back in time.

And yet we rarely attempt to go back in time and examine the choices leading up to our success.  Surely the path was just as fraught with danger, and yet there is no heady anticipation in re-examining that one afternoon ten years ago where you might have blown it all.  One would think that such analysis could be even more constructive than the simple avoidance of failure.

Of course, there are emotions at play.  For some reason, it is more thrilling to find your way back from the precipice of disaster, than to simply avoid going near the cliffs that day.  Perhaps this is because we have all at one point been at that ledge, and fallen off, and we still dwell on what might have been.  Even as we fall we still think of that other self, who at the last moment extended the wings of a different destiny and flew off to another life.  As we plunge into the river, we miss more than what we lost: we miss the potential of choice, and that spark of knowing that our destiny is not yet sealed.  And yet with each passing moment, noticed or unnoticed, we have closed another door, or opened one, or looked out the window instead, or stood there and watched the door walk off forever.  Perhaps we are not so afraid of whether we win or lose, but of the fact that if you win, you will not know what it’s like to lose, and so have you really won?  And if you lose, have you really lost?

You may look up, from underwater, at your winged self, but you will never know the kiss of the wind above those clouds, and your winged self will never know the embrace of the current beneath those waves.  In that sense we are alone.  And so we’re all carried along, by the river of dreams.

In the middle of the night.

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