A disputation: free will. Or, City Review: Washington, DC
17 January, 2012 § 5 Comments
‘Cept not a normal one because I don’t plan on relying on either authoritative sources or on understanding both sides of the issue.
My relationship with the cosmos has shifted a lot in the recent…um, months and maybe years. This is partially because of my friendship with John, with whom I have shouting matches disguised as debates disguised as shouting matches about the nature of reality (often ending with the formula “And x is not a thing,” e.g., “And Islam is not a thing”; “And religion is not a thing”; “And New York is not a thing”). This is also partially because I have everything figured out, now that I’m 25. You know how it is.
Anyway, I’m in Washington, DC this week. Well this past week. Until tomorrow. It’s been real, kids.
I had a deadline on Sunday. I was on the fence about whether I was going to do the thing I needed to do to make the deadline, because the deadline was for an application, and I wasn’t sure what I would do if my application were successful in its applicatory endeavors. But I wanted to send this application for other reasons. Make sense? I’m being vague because this is none of your business (I have an upcoming post on web presence that will be relevant here).
So, on Sunday, I got up. I got dressed. I crossed the city. I crossed the city again. I had coffee with two of my dearest friends, Ben and Rob. We all went to high school together (Rob and I, middle school, too), and sometimes I feel like my heart will explode from the happiness I feel about having so many good friends who’ve known me for so long and haven’t gotten shed of me yet. We thought of philosopher-dessert puns (actually, I didn’t think of any, but Rob did). I walked to Tenleytown from Logan Circle (it was a long walk). I had dinner with dear family. I thought about how nice it is to go see family because they’re just the sort of folks I want to hang out with, instead of being obligated (they’re not that closely related to me). I went back to Logan Circle. I held court with a couple of my best friends (Jordann and Alex) and died laughing. Sometimes I feel like my heart with explode from the happiness I feel about having so many good friends who haven’t known me for that long (well, three and a half years, in this case, but kinda new). And I didn’t meet the deadline.
Really, that was fine. It was probably what my best self needed and wanted. Okay. But notice that never during that entire day did I ever think: “Now I am going to not do that thing.” I just did things. And didn’t do things. The chattering monkey shut up a bit and I just operated my body through activities until the day was done. And the day’s activities didn’t include meeting the deadline.
I live in a deterministic universe, q.e.d. It’s brilliant sometimes to think about that.
What else have I done in this city? I’ve met characters of all types, walked and walked and walked, shouted at red pandas and a whole lot else (Rob), seen unimaginably good friends (everyone), met a friend’s husband even though I’m the one who set them up (Joanna), researched contentious politics with an old pal (Nawal + occupy), cherished the fact that I can see some friends after five years without skipping a beat (Peter and Albert inter alia), walked through the natural history museum and deftly uncovered polite racism, fallen in love with a time and a place and a city, this time, this place, this city. Typical travel stuff for me, I guess, but exhilarating.
Going back to my first point, I think I lost the point…what a wonderful world? Heart-exploding happiness? Look at me, fun vacation? Seems like I could express something better than that, and maybe I could if I tried really hard. One of the most satisfying changes in my life over the past several years has been a gradual reduction in panic about the future (with the whole of 2011 being an anomalous uptick in the general downward trend). There’s little more satisfying than weeks like these, not in the vacation sense (because vacation is great), but in just doing and being with people who are precious to me. I think this is one of the bigger points.
Gah, I should stick to jokes.