I started reading Peter L. Bernstein’s Against the Gods yesterday. In the introduction he explains, “The story I have to tell is marked all the way through by a persistent tension between those who assert that the best decisions are based on quantification and numbers, determined by the patterns of the past, and those who base their decisions on more subjective degrees about the uncertain future.”
Let’s just grab a basic ‘quantify’ definition off a Google search. Dictionary.com says in terms of logic, it means “to limit the variables of (a proposition) by prefixing an operator such as all or some.” Risk assessment is a way to anticipate the future. It allows for an educated ‘prediction.’ What if I could quantify ALL ‘Jenna’s’ emotions, look back at it objectively, and accurately predict the outcome of all risky endeavors and career choices?
Well, I can’t quantify emotion, but I can record the sh*t out of it, and later look back upon it objectively.
I did go through a period in which I was writing in a journal from the third person. “Jenna got angry today because…” and “Jenna enjoyed a nice cry in the mirror because her friend Danielle told her it felt good to cry in the mirror, and in fact, it did.” Venting in a journal is a great way to get all that STUFF out of the mental facility. Like an every day mental spring-cleaning. But writing from the third person REALLY puts it in perspective, and highlights your personal ridiculousness. Instead of feeling miserable, you clearly see you’re living in a hilarious sitcom.
I was walking to get a massage up on 91st street by a man referred to me. As I passed the corner I saw a school with a poster that read, “follow your passion,” and my mind immediately jumped to Joseph Campbell who said, “Follow your bliss.” I found myself thinking, I wish it were that easy…
You can follow your bliss, but you need to follow your bliss with an informed mind.
I walked into the man’s apartment and was smacked in the face with, “okay, this is going to be strange.” Not your typical spa. It’s not a spa at all. Just an apartment. Had I not been referred by someone I totally trust, I’d have run the eff outta there. I stayed put.
“So what’s going on today?” I immediately grabbed my left shoulder. It’s a perpetual problem. Before I could continue, he jumped in and pointed to about three other issues, went into the emotional stuff going on, and point blank told me what was going on in my life without my input. He was dead right and I was feeling dismantled, revealed, and vulnerable.
As he went to work I opened up about fear of failure, etc. etc. He had already called me out on it. “Follow your bliss, Joseph Campbell…” He said. “That’s SO WEIRD, I was just thinking about that on my way here!”
His name is Don. Anyone who wants his information, contact me. He broke down my physical body explaining how the emotional body comes through and manifests within the body structure. “All I do is challenge your old patterns with new ones. There is emotional stuff going on preventing you from getting where you want to be. Let’s clear all that, and open the door to the opportunities and future you’re looking for.”
Choices about the future are indeed more risky when we create our own obstacles. As Don pointed out, there are emotional issues going on that are manifesting in my body. He pointed them out, and brought my awareness to them. Without awareness of these issues, I’d continue to move forward from an uninformed, unaware place. They’d remain a blind spot, in which case I’d keep acting from the same space, making the same mistakes over and over in a cyclic cycle without knowing why. But by bringing awareness to these emotions and habits, they lose their grip. Without seeing them, you stay stuck within their hold unconsciously, and your future remains at the mercy of habit. Habit that may not be getting you anywhere.
It seems life can be lived according to numbers and facts or life can be lived according to story. Facts are fixed. But story can forever change and shift accordingly. Our past events are fixed, but not the way we look back, reflect, and process. Our personal filter can change. We can introduce new patterns into our wiring with effort and intention, opening opportunity for a future that, at the moment, seems improbable. We aren’t at the mercy of fate when we have the ability to write our own life’s story.
So, I may not be able to quantify emotion, but I can look at the past from an objective standpoint and move forward in a more informed manner.