WilderWorks

Mar 28, 2007

Stupid Question

Laying in bed tonight, I was struck with something very obvious. So obvious, it's deeply important to me. It's the central question that causes me so many sleepless nights of calculating and weighing experiences, so much hopeless pattern searching and uncertainty.

Simply:

Does life work out the way it's supposed to, or does it just work out the way it does?

Do we get out of life what we make of things, or do we just get whatever we can grab?

I don't know the answer. It could be any one of these, or any two, or any three, or all four, or none of them. Is there justice? Is it survival of the fittest? Is there God or Quantum Mechanics? A set future or infinite possibility?

I can make a strong argument for any possibility. I feel strongly about each. And when I'm writing about the tension between these choices, that is when I'm writing something I care about. Because, for some reason, I care about his stupid question.

Again, it's so obvious. It's been phrased a million ways. Science and religion and fiction all struggle with it at the core. I can't imagine people who don't, deep down, wonder what the answer is. Since we're constantly being asked to make choices, to place wagers on how the future will unfold, we have to adopt some sort of theory on how to gamble. Even having no theory is a theory in itself. Even a strategy of avoiding the topic is a reasonable and practical strategy. They all seem equal, and yet, on some days, one seems so much more likely than the others.

This framing of the obvious has given me a handle on my own work, and my emotional stress. So many people seem to have their system worked out, but I have no workable theory. I have no strategy. No method to handle the possibilities. They all seem plausible and wise. They all seem fanciful and blind.

Is there something, or nothing? If there is something, I know how I should behave tomorrow. If there is nothing, I also know what I should do tomorrow. But the way I should act is not the same, not even similar, between the two cases. And so -- I hesitate to act at all. That is one way of acting that is certainly wrong, in my book. I must find a mythology of my own to reconcile these two opposite ways to wager.