Life is not simple.
No part of it is.
No part of it should be expected to be purely simple.
Unless you’re an amoeba. Then life doesn’t get much simpler.
Even the inhilation of oxygen and the exhalation of carbon dioxide is incredibly complex.
The tangle of neurons bathed in a soup of hormones and neurotransmitters that somehow has allowed us to cook, speak, bathe, run, sleep without worrying about bodily functions, is amazing. But it is the most complicated and poorly understood organ of all. And it controls everything.
Which really puts complicated situations in a whole new light.
We are complicated enough physically, but then all the social complexities and the nature of how we have evolved to live get in there and it gets even messier.
And sometimes I really wish there was a little Handbook of Life, we all do. Some neat and tidy manual that instructs us how to feel, act, and choose when faced with the most complex and emotionally challenging moments.
But as I’m realizing, there’s no fun in that. And the reason no such book exists is because we humans are simply too complex. We come perfectly uniquely packaged. Even identical twins who come with matching DNA and fingerprints come with their own personality, their own behavioural and emotional tendencies.
Once we’re out in the world, our experiences shape who we see ourselves as, how we behave, and in turn the sorts of situations and decisions we encounter.
Our entire existence on this planet is based on a web of individuals’ experiences, woven together with occasional commonalities. With that many variables and possible outcomes, how COULD a Guidebook even exist? Our experiences shape how with think and feel about, and react to the world. Even if a guidebook existed it would never be exhaustive.
Fact is we’re human, being this complex and interactive and dynamic entitles us to a few hundred mistakes and more than a few disappointments.
Yet we live in a world where we are being trained to “Google it” if we don’t know the answer. And fact is you pretty much can ask Google anything and get 1.2 billion answers in 0.23 seconds. What’s great about Google is that it doesn’t tell you THE answer, it tells you all possible answers everyone else has come up with. Some, admittedly are completely useless/irrational. But it gives you your options, gives you access to someone else’s story, a chance to see how others reacted so you can make a decision with all the options. I love Google, but sometimes the answer
can’t shouldn’t be found on Google. And sometimes the answer Google fails to give you isn’t the one you want, but it’s the best advice – sit tight and it will sort itself out or the answer will at least become apparent.
And that’s all we can hope for.
I go to my friends for advice with the tough stuff. We all do. Occasionally it’s big enough stuff that we just want our mom/dad so we can sob in their lap like when we were 5 and milk and cookies made it better. We want to revert to when they made the decisions because the one we’re facing is too complex.
I mean how on earth is one to decide between marble or medium cheese?! That’s complicated stuff. Jokes.
But we go to people, and until a few weeks ago I thought it was because I wanted them to tell me the answer. Sort of like when you’re in grade school and you go to your friends for help, but really you just want the answer so you can scrawl it down and be done with your homework (I mean now odds are you don’t even need to accumulate social IOU’s, you could go on Google, but I’m sure younger kids haven’t got on that yet).
What I realized Monday, was that I didn’t want my friends to tell me what I should do, because I already knew that, or at least I knew how to figure it out. I wanted them to remind me of things I might need to make my own decision.
Because let’s face it – it’s your decision. You’re the one that has to live with it.
If someone told you what to do and things went south, you would blame them. If you always had to do what the book told you to do (i.e. we were programmed like robots), you might end up getting stuck with some decisions you’re not happy with, some decisions you wish you hadn’t made. In which case being a robot may have it’s advantages, because at least then you probably wouldn’t feel regret per say. Emotions, I am told, are uniquely human.
So like it or not the tough decisions teach you a lot of things. And sometimes those things suck. But imagine if you didn’t get to make those decisions. You never got to learn to make better ones. You never learned what the results of a bad decision looked and felt like.
So yeah, sometimes I want a Handbook – The Dummy’s Guide to Life Decisions (probably spread out as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series) – but really, reading a textbook doesn’t always prepare me for exams either. So I’m happy that I’m left to stumble through and pray I pass at the end. Even if it makes me a little happy sad or just plain sad at times.