Choice and cost

I had started to write an open letter to my rugby lads, urging them on over the final furlong of the season. I had thought that it would included the line about their season titrating down to a series of moments like these, junctions along your timeline where you chose your heading.

And then it occurred that it might seem a bit over the top. Particularly when you consider that actually life is a succession of choices. Some are monumental, towering over your life like a skyscraper in a campsite. Others are colossal but take a little digging to find, most of their bulk lurks under the surface. Then there are the small, everyday, apparently run-of-the-mill choices which we make all of the time. Many of these barely cause a flicker of concern, so habitual are the decisions. Yet the sum total of all of these leads us to where we stand today. Granted, at some points the options may seem so heavily weighted to one side or the other as to give the appearance of no choice but, just because one of the options is unpalatable does not mean that there is no choice.

As is quite often the case with these posts, I don't really have an agenda when I start writing and today is no different but I should still be able to tease out what I am getting. I guess it is this -

Our ability to automate many of our thought processes is fascinating to me and is an enormous strength for our species. But, we need, on occasion, to pause for breath and really think carefully about what stories we are selling ourselves. Questioning accepted wisdom can be a constructive exercise and is recognised as a reasonable intellectual and political pursuit which can lead to growth and change. And yet, in terms of our understanding of ourselves, of our loves, our hates, our fears, of our sports and so on and so on, we plough on mute.

There is a time and a place for all things. Too much analysis seems to lead inexorably to statistics (and all the nonsense that hangs on their coattails); committee meetings and paralysis. Too little and you see no effect. Everything has its cost whether in terms of time, or opportunity, or money, or mental energy. You can keep following the same tried and tested path because it apparently has no cost or is at least cheaper than the alternative. Look again, look at the cost of what you are doing. Now look at the balance sheet one more time. Are you selling short?

Just because it is very old and Greek does not give this next message any more validity but it's worth a ponder on its own merits:

"only consider at that price you sell your own will; if for no other reason, at least for this, that you sell it not for a small sum"
-Epictetus, Discourse, Bk 1, Ch 2.

Only you can determine the value for you, is it a price worth paying?

B

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