A six-day week…This is the life I chose to experience. It’s hardly even begun; a mere taste of what the future morrows may soon bring. So be it. Ours is not a caravan of despair, but a caravan of hope.
A wonderful conversation with T.H. the other night about values and value systems, a topic both of us have spent much time musing over. Always at the edge of any thought we seem to discuss is the notion of agency: do we choose? Seems simple based solely on intuition, and yet the more we learn the more we find that our choices are influenced by oh-so-many factors.
Take values then. I grew up with Catholic parents, both devout and every-Sunday worshippers. I went to Sunday classes, where I grew increasingly disillusioned by my peers who couldn’t seem to care a sand grain less. Being Asian, I had many sources of Eastern influences: the culture itself for 8 years, various movies and shows, my predilection for certain reading materials growing up. My upbringing here in the US also plays a part, certainly a far bigger one during the teenage years than the first eight overseas. So here’s the question: take another person with all the same influence sources. Would their value system closely approximate my own?
How much of a ‘choice’ is it that I find certain themes like redemption desirable? Did I choose elements throughout the years that appeal to these values, discarding others that did not sync up nicely? Or did I grasp upon them because they appealed to me at some intuitive but not-so-deliberate level? How many of us, myself included, actually go through life choosing deliberately the values we operate with? If merely going along with our default settings is considered choice, it sounds awful passive. That said, I’m passing a value judgment here on passiveness being inferior – an indication in itself that hints at the larger web of values I sally about with.
This of course devolves into one of my favorite questions to ponder: is it better to have always been good? Or to achieve goodness through great effort? Given my orientation, the question may be biased toward the second half on first glance. Indeed, the second path sounds intuitively more appealing, signifying suffering, growth, redemption. Doesn’t that punish the individual who never wavered from the path of good though? Why should being good constantly the lesser or less compelling story?
On a side note, another hair turned gray some time recently. That’s three now (that I can readily see), all on the right temple side of my head. So long youth, we had a good run. I must learn to shelve you like so many passing yesterdays, and so many letting go’s of just this month: my old state’s license, my car, and quieting the flickers of a ghosting past. Among the seven sins of memory: the inability to forget for our own sake. Were it so easy to forget though, I’d live a happier yet shallower life (or so that ‘chosen’ value system of mine would suggest).