Obligations

Fifteen Commandments

In all honesty, I just now was lying down to sleep and remembered that I needed to write something.

Fuck.

It’s like that dream where for reasons you don’t understand you’re giving a presentation on a subject you haven’t studied in front of an entire class. And, like in that dream, I’m not wearing any pants, though that’s mainly a concession to the heat – which, frankly, isn’t making this any easier.

It’s nice to be lazy, but sometimes we are called upon to act, to fight against inertia. I’ve made a commitment to writing my thoughts here, regularly, for reasons which are either too complicated or too simple for me to express. This is my call to action, though in this instance ‘action’ is defined as sitting in front of a computer and complaining. This is the demand the world has on me right now. This is my little blinking tutorial icon, my ‘Hey, Listen!’, my obnoxious chime that won’t stop chiming until I complete the next task. This is my director telling me my motivation: This is my brain on responsibility. Any questions?

It’s weird the way we characterize responsibilities as externally imposed. They obviously aren’t, they’re obviously just counterbalanced against sacrifices we aren’t willing to make, but we play a game where we pretend that we have no choice, because it’s easier than the alternative of a savage choice that could tear our hearts out if we let it. We build tiny little prisons out of imagined bars and lead our lives in solitary confinement, all because the idea of facing up to one of these decisions is too terrible to imagine.

The main move we never consider is to not play – which is unfortunate since it is, so often, the only winning move.

The thing is, you can only make so many decisions. This is just pragmatism. If we had to make every choice, every time, to decide whether we wanted to maintain our life or strive for something new, the weight would quickly crush us. It would be like playing The Walking Dead, every single day, for the rest of your life. Instead, once we make a decision, we enshrine it, we make of it a tradition, and every day we live by that decision, never revisiting it, trapped in our own confirmation bias.

But, you know, that’s also what willpower is. Willpower is the ability to craft these imaginary bars such that they will not bend, so that they will not break. In combination with a mind clever enough to know which bars will bear weight and which merely hold us back, this can be used to make things: bridges and ladders to take us where we could never reach before, benches where we can rest from the onslaughts of a relentless world, and badges, by which we advertise our principles, and show those who would trust us that we are worthy, that we are made of something stronger than steel.

It’s probably something worth fighting for.

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