The Blessing and Curse of Possibility

When I was in high school, we brought in a speaker named Benjamin Zander. Mr. Zander is the director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and he spoke to all of the music students in the building. Before his talk, we watched his TED Talk in preparation. I highly recommend that you watch the whole thing if you have not seen it because he makes a lot of wonderful points; I even own his book. One of his main arguments is that we ought to live in a world of possibility instead of limiting ourselves with too many specifics and measurements. We should find ways to explore beyond the ordinary and plug into the infinite energy source of the possible.

I have found great solace in this philosophy time and time again, yet I now recognize some of its own limitations. Too many options are frankly overwhelming for the human mind to handle. I read portions of a wonderful book about the human mind and its capacities for attention, memory, and energy. One of its points is that the happiest, most successful people hire other people to make many of their decisions for them. At any given moment, they don’t waste any head space wondering, “am I making the best possible use of my time?” or “am I forgetting something?” since someone else is already being paid to maximize their time and remember everything for them. Humanity offloads many of these things with to-do lists, planners, calendars, labels, and other organizational system, yet we still live in a world full of more decisions than ever before.

Each time we must make a decision (no matter how little or large), our brain is taxed slightly. Think about all the decisions you might make in a 5-minute stretch INCLUDING your “non-decisions”. Let me model… as I sit here writing and listening to the soundtrack from Westworld, here are the decisions I make: “Should I change the song to something I like more? No. Should I check my cell phone? No because I’m in the zone. “My room is messy; when am I going to clean it? I will do it later…or never muahaha. Which thoughts do I pick to make public here and which ones should I withhold?” Within this example alone of roughly 1 minute of time, I had a plethora of thoughts and even one or two that I backspaced because I decided not to include them. These small choices stress us out very slowly to the point that when a big. important decision finally comes along, we are not necessarily in the proper head space to address it well.

I say all of this because I feel crushed under the weight of endless possibility instead of being freed by it. This summer, I have quite a bit of free time. I teach private music lessons on Saturdays and work with kids who have disabilities or challenging behaviors within park district programs throughout the week, yet that does not take up all of my time. I also work out, run errands, read books, play video games, find interesting/entertaining content on the internet (mainly on YouTube or Facebook), watch TV (American Ninja Warrior, Veep, and Arrested Development currently), and hang out with friends. Additionally, I think I am going to start going on some dates with people I have been meeting virtually through the dating apps I mentioned in my previous post. I have a lot going on, and I am still working to find balance. Wish me luck, and I’ll update you as we go.

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