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Those who advise me tell me that the world is an unplanned and spontaneous place, where event can overtake their cause, ends flow into beginnings with infinite variability and possessing the virtue of predictability only in the cryptic assurance that they are predictably unpredictable. That the ebb and flow of events can be such that we must sometimes, if we are to keep our head above the crest of events, commit ourselves instinctively, in the full course of events to causes and end products that we might not understand, appreciate, or desire.

They counsel this to make it clear that what I cannot have is one of the things I want most, for the world to be knowable and understandable. For me to always make conscious choices, not forced by the press of events and the tumult of time, but careful, slow, considered and yet capable of creating an ending that is both desired and appropriate. To have a measure, some control over pace, to find life not a slide, forced around twists at increasing speed, loops coming faster and the background blurred in the mist – this is not for me. I am and always have been a slow and rather patient person, a person who believes more in evolution then revolution, that steps are always taken slowly and firmly in a direction rather then randomly and exuberantly stepping over rubicons and into the unknown. The unknown is an anathema, something to be explored slowly methodically mindfully. Not to be charged down into recklessly and boldly, pretending that bravery can substitute for skill.

I understand though now that this preference, this predicament, leaves me vulnerable to those, who understanding my psyche, wish to pressure me. All it requires is to control the flow of events, to make me feel the pinch of the invincible hand of time, to know that I can only take two alternatives: either to yield or to abdicate my decision. I will either give in, coerced by the power wielded against me or I will exercise my right to not play the game. Perhaps this amounts to some sort of strange yield or flight response to stress, not the famous fight or flight, but then perhaps I have been tempered in environments sufficiently different from the primeval to develop a different range of responses.

I have to live in the modern world, of bewildering complexity and infinite variety, where the options and choices of a minute can change the possibilities of a lifetime, where the sheer variety of people can make choices unknown to me, that may through Adam Smith’s hand make choices for me, and where the fluidity of the human condition might make hundreds of choices equally possible or impossible. In this world, I who desires certainty perhaps over many other things, who values stability and fully accepts the role of the dynamic at the same time, who will espouse the mantra that “the only thing that doesn’t change is change” and not accept it except intellectually have to fashion out a niche and to find a way to thrive.

Somehow I survive, perhaps underestimating my own ability to react to forced circumstances, or because of my one single victory – to understand the game of life is a game – with rules, winners and losers but that the rule set does not define the possibilities. That there are options outside the box that I can have recourse to and that the ability to be dictated to is created by the game, and the game can be stopped at any time. Small nuggets of hope perhaps, in this catalogue of despair.



    • behappy168
    • Posted February 27, 2007 at 8:24 pm
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    I too am a slow, careful person. The example I prefer to use is that I can play Civilization but not Warcraft, which is true in reality…

    Can you explain how one can stop the game of life? I thought this is the biggest difference between life and game: the former cannot be stopped, paused or restarted.

    • Mohammed Talib
    • Posted February 27, 2007 at 9:42 pm
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    It can’t really be stopped, but I find that if you change the pace, either by doing something unexpected or by making it clear that you won’t have events dictated to you, you can usually change enough to give you the time to reach a decision.

    As you get to pick the way in which to disrupt the course of events you also get to pick your response earlier as you have a better understanding of what will happen in the circumstances.

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