The Tipping Point
This is the kind of post that I view as being little fragments of thought. Sometimes when there is so much on my mind that I feel a bit overwhelmed I break things up into chunks and try to figure out what is bothering me. Hence you have these fragments I am sharing with you. If you choose to follow you may find a string connecting them all together or alternatively you may fear getting lost in the black hole that has just opened up at your feet. Tread with caution there are no golden parachutes.
I wasn’t yet a father when I read The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, at least I don’t think that I was. Truth is that I might be wrong about that. It wouldn’t be the first time nor will it be the last. People like to think that we make decisions based upon logic and reason but more often than not they are based upon arbitrary emotion/feelings that we aren’t always conscious of.
The book caught my eye because it talked about change and that is something that I wrestle with. Change is my best friend and arch nemesis. If I were a superhero change would vex me by alternately helping and hindering me. There would be moments where I would express my undying appreciationÂ for it and then follow up by trying to savage it so severely death would be welcome.
I followed up on The Tipping Point by reading Blink. While I can’t point to one thing in Blink that I liked better than others it really held my attention. Gladwell describes it like this:
You could also say that it’s a book about intuition, except that I don’t like that word. In fact it never appears in “Blink.” Intuition strikes me as a concept we use to describe emotional reactions, gut feelings–thoughts and impressions that don’t seem entirely rational. But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is perfectly rational. It’s thinking–its just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with “thinking.” In “Blink” I’m trying to understand those two seconds. What is going on inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition better?
Those who know me best will tell you that it is not unusual for me to make decisions based upon my gut. While I can’t claim to have conducted a scientific study my gut feeling regarding its use as prognosticator of the future is that it is usually pretty accurate. I am usually happier when I listen to it than when I do not.
“On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on his left hand was the word fear
And in which hand he held his fate was never clear”
Cautious Man- Bruce Springsteen
My son and I have had many discussions about life and how we make decisions. I have told him that there are no guarantees nor promises that life will go as we plan. I told him that we do our best to take control of what we can and then roll with the punches. I believe all that to be true but I haven’t told him that I often wonder if some of my decisions matter or not. There are times where I feel like it doesn’t matter what I do because I am going to end up in the same place.
You can label that as the free will discussion. I have been told by some that there are limitations to free will and that some things will happen regardless of what we do.Â I can’t say that I buy that argument or that everything happens for a reason. You won’t convince me that there is a reason for murder or for terminal illnesses to take children. Don’t tell me that I don’t understand G-d’s plan because unless G-d offers a personal explanation I won’t listen.
But I will admit that sometimes there are strange coincidences and weird experiences that don’t make sense. There is a lot more to say on this but not a whole lot of time right now. What do you think?