mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

madanthony gets philosphical...

Religions have debated since the beginning of time how much control we have of our own lives. Some people throughout history, especially the Calvinists, have believed in the idea of predestination - essentially, that our paths are predetermined and that there is nothing we can do about it. It's the opposite of free will, the idea that we do what we do because it's what we were meant to do.

The idea is in some ways depressing. If our lives suck, it's because they are supposed to suck, and we can't do anything about it, and if we succeed, it's not because of anything we've done, but because we were supposed to succeed through fate/God/whatever.

But there is also a certain amount of comfort to it - the idea of things happening for a reason, that anything we do is part of a bigger plan. In other words, maybe things just suck now because they will get better later. Maybe something that sucks will serve as a launching pad to something that doesn't suck, or something that appears not to suck would turn out to suck if it had happened.

But I tend to shy away from this. For one thing, it's hard to be a Republican if you believe that people can't control their own destiny. For another, it diminishes any actual accomplishments you make, because they were achieved not through anything you did, but because they were destined to.

So I would prefer to look at the world as a series of opportunities - that maybe fate isn't writing the ending of your life before you are born, but rather setting out one of those choose your own adventure books where every now and then you come to a point where you need to make a decision, and that decision determines if the villain captures you - I mean, the future path of your life.

There are some things I can look on in my past and say "hey, my life would be totally different if I hadn't made that decision". If I hadn't gone to the college I went to, I wouldn't have ended up moving to Maryland. If I hadn't lived off-campus my senior year of college, I probably wouldn't have looked for a summer job with the technology services department of said college - which meant I wouldn't have ended up working there (eventually) after graduation. If I hadn't changed my mind about another job I was going to take after graduation, my career path would also have been different.

But there are the less obvious ones as well. Several years ago, I was at work on a Saturday, and I took one of those "how long are you going to live" quizzes - which said I would be dead in about 20 years. That inspired me to finally lose some weight, and while I still don't get mistaken for a Calvin Klein model, I am at a point where I no longer need to special-order my pants.

Which makes me wonder how many other minor, tiny things there are that could have dramatically changed my path, but I didn't make the path-changing decision, and thus never noticed them.

So what has inspired madanthony to get so philosophical? Unlike my college days, it's not a case of Shaeffer Light and a plastic handle of vodka. Rather, it's the thing that's caused so many bad movies and songs to be written - the as-yet-unsuccessful pursuit of true love. You could look madanthony's chronic inability to date in two ways - it's because I've made bad decisions, like not getting out much and not really paying much attention to my looks. Or maybe it's the way it's supposed to be - that the reason I'm still single is because I'm supposed to be, because if I wasn't I couldn't meet the person I'm supposed to meet.

I guess the reality of it is probably somewhere in-between - there probably are some missed opportunities along the choose-your-own-adventure book of madanthony. But hopefully there are also still some chapters that I haven't gotten to yet, that I can pick the path to the right person rather than get eaten by the monster of loneliness.

But if I'm going to hold the views that people on welfare need to get jobs and fat people need to put down the fudge and hit the Precor, I'm also going to have to hold the view that I am not totally a victim of circumstances or previous bad decisions, but rather that I can make my own luck, however that is. Maybe it will be through online dating - so far, I've had more communication with a week of eHarmony than I had with 6 months of, but nothing major yet - or maybe through some other path I haven't found yet. There is, I suppose, a comfort in telling myself that "it was meant to be this way", but I think with that comfort comes an ability to accept fate rather than try to change it, and I think that would hurt me in the long run.


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