Not long ago, a friend asked me if I believed in free will. Sure, the whole concept of having our life choices being up to ourselves can be interpreted in many ways, and the idea of free will is vague in itself, but I guess I do believe in free will. Or rather, I always have. Free will may be nothing more than a myth, but I’ve always found it to be comforting to think that I hold the power to the outcome of my life. So maybe that’s just the purpose it serves – comfort. After telling my friend that I believed in it, the questions started.
“So do you not think that everything has a cause?”
“If everything has a cause, and as a result of that cause, there is an effect, where is your free will? Where do you come into play if everything is already determined by an original cause?”
And then of course, he goes into his spiel of free will vs. Determinism vs. Big Bang theory vs. the reason why I chose the panties I wore that day and how that effected the chances of me getting laid that evening and the big grass grows all around and around and the big grass grows all around. I took in what I could, but let’s face it, I’m not an intellectual. I’ve never claimed to be. I’m just somewhat clever, occasionally witty, and always wise.
While my friend thinks I never take his heated debates seriously, I do. I appreciate the ways it allows me to reflect upon my own life, and since 2005 has come to a close, I appreciate the reflections even more. 2005 was not a good year for me. Sure, it had its ups as well as the downs, but when I try to put both into a category to see who has the advantage, the downs wins the race by way more than a nose. The only good thing I can say about 2005 is that I’m glad it is over. I feel I made some really bad decisions which ultimately gave into the outcome of me having a bad year. Free will, right? The responsibility of me having the shittiest year ever falls solely into my hands since I hold the power. The year was up to me.
Or was it? After thinking that everything is pretermined by a previous cause or a effect, maybe I didn’t have so much to do with this past year being shitty for me. It was already in my cards. Something I did years ago set off some molecules in my body chemistry that gave into 2005 sticking it in my ass. Or maybe it’s all that the terrible events of this year led to more terrible events. Actually, when it’s put like this, maybe I like this line of thinking better.
This line of thinking puts a whole new perspective on 2005 for me. The New Year began with me finding out that my roommate Brooke was moving out suddenly. So, with the whole cause and effect thought process, as a result of Brooke moving out suddenly, we had to find a new roommate.
As a result of having to find a roommate on short notice, we let anyone who was interested move in without really finding out what kind of roommate they were in the past.
As a result of this, we ended up with Steve who spent more money on coke than he did on rent and bills.
As a result of this, Steve goes out of town one weekend and never shows back up.
As a result of this, we’re left with a room full of his stuff and no extra money on bills.
As a result of this, I start dating Jeff so he can pay for my dinners and my other roommate Brandon starts exploring alternate solutions to the living situation.
As a result of this, I’m unhappy with Jeff spending more money than attention on me, and Brandon finds two friends in Florida that need a roommate. Jeff and I break up, Brandon wants to move out.
As a result of this, I decide I have to find a place of my own and I’m scared.
As a result of this, I meet Joey, a guy completely different from Jeff. As a result of this, things move fast with Joey – I become completely smitten with him.
As a result of this, having him move into my own place with me doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
As a result of this, I become paranoid that since we’re living together I have to be this perfect girlfriend and I start catering to him and let a lot of stuff slip by.
As a result of this, he thinks he can get by with anything and in the mean time finds me “smothering.”
As a result of this, he stays out at all hours of the night, giving me lame excuses and I buy them.
As a result of this, I’m left home alone a lot and become really depressed by it.
As a result of this, my relationship starts to crumble.
As a result of this, he starts cheating on me.
As a result of this, I find out and he is booted out the door.
As a result of this, I’m left scarred by relationships, definitely jaded, living by myself and very very hurt. And there’s much more that happened involving this whole cause and effect thing but you get the gist of it.
So what have I been blaming 2005 on? Myself of course. I told myself I should have never jumped into a relationship with Joey so soon after just meeting him, I should have never asked him to live with me, I should have never bought his crap. I should have just moved into my own apartment and focused on myself. All of this, it’s my fault.
Or was it? Because I mean, looking back over what I just wrote, none of this would have happened if Brooke had never moved out. So maybe it’s Brooke’s fault!!! Or maybe I’m not even getting it. Like I said, I never claimed to be an intellectual. I’m just excited at the prospect of getting to blame someone else for my misfortunes.
The last dinner Joey and I had together was at a little Chinese place about a block away from our apartment. As usual, we waited until we both finished eating and then we opened up our fortune cookies to see what exactly our future was to hold. Mine was probably something lame, but I remember when Joey read his to himself, he crumbled up the fortune and threw it down on his plate.
“Mine was stupid too,” he said.
“Let me see,” I said and reached for the fortune.
The small red words said, “Avoid compulsively making things worse.”
I started laughing out loud. “Are you kidding me?” I couldn’t stop laughing. “This fortune is perfect for you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.
“Well you know, it just seems that every time something good starts happening for you, you seem to fuck it up somehow.”
“What am I fucking up now?”
I figured I would spare him a list, but gave him numero uno. “Us. You’re making things worse with us.”
“We’re fine,” he says, and tucks the fortune into the pocket of his jeans. “I’ll keep the dumb fortune anyway since you think it’s so fitting.”
So after talking with my friend about free will and determinism, reflecting on my past year and coming up with better excuses for the year’s events, I decided that perhaps this new year I’d start out resolution free, and instead try focusing on something more productive like getting my closet organized. Only once I started cleaning, I looked to the floor to find something I had completely forgotten about. The fortune.
“Avoid compulsively making things worse”. The more I thought about it, Joey was right. The fortune did not necessarily apply to him. It applied to me. For years I’ve led this topsy turvy lifestyle letting things ride smoothly for a short time, and then finding ways to throw it for a curve. I rarely think things through and I act more on impulse. If it feels right, I’ll do it, but that doesn’t really make it right, does it? Where has my logic been?
Surely, all of the events of 2005 could have been avoided if I had sat down and thought, “Hey, why don’t we shop around for a roommate? This way, we’ll have a better chance at finding someone who is responsible and reliable. Why move in the first person that is willing?”
With Jeff I should have just realized maybe he wasn’t that much into me as much as I wasn’t that into him. I mean, I told myself that I was, but that was because I liked the attention and I liked being pampered a bit. So I kept dragging it out until I was miserable enough to jump into a relationship with the first guy I met after we broke up.
With Joey it’s obvious – I should have taken my time with him. It could have possibly been a good relationship if I just wasn’t in such a rush in fall in love.
Avoid compulsively making things worse, Carrie. Use your head. And I know it’s not good to look to your past and list the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’s, but in my case, I think it’s necessary. I’ll be 25 in 2006. It’s time to grow up. I’ve taped the fortune to my mirror so that I am forced to look at it every day.
So this is one life choice that IS completely up to me. Or is it really just a result of me having Chinese that day and reading Joey’s fortune that caused me to adopt this line of thinking? Either way, deep thinking makes my head hurt, so I was able to sip champagne in a more relaxed state of mind this past New Years Eve knowing that I will thoughtfully consider any decision I make in 2006 before jumping into them.
Of course, this means no one night stands occured on New Years Eve either. Such are the breaks when coming to terms with your life.
Carrie Nations’ first big decision of 2006 was whether or not she should drink the pink champagne or the regular champagne. They both taste the same, but she has always been a big fan of the color pink. She decided to mix the two. You can email her your New Years resolutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.