Choosing what you like is not denying what you don’t
Do you feel if you don’t deal with difficult things you’re denying or avoiding reality? Does that bring you down or make you feel irresponsible? Does that compel you to do things you don’t want to? Here’s how to make sure you don’t. After a conversation last night, my friend said she looked at enjoying life in a whole new way for the better.
Let’s start with an analogy. On a corner of Manhattan, dozens of people may pass you in a minute. You could stop and talk to any one of them. It’s so diverse, one might be a student, another a dancer, athlete, lawyer, CEO, model, housewife, and so on. If you began a conversation with any about his or her life, you’d get a different view of the city.
You can make New York whatever kind of city you want among the communities within it you choose to connect to. Personally, I’ve seen New York as a student city, and entrepreneurial city, an athlete city, an art city, and so on.
All these New Yorks exist simultaneously in parallel, partly interacting, partly independent. You can choose to pick any one and ignore any others. You could know only students and no entrepreneurs, or whatever. Who you bring into your environment doesn’t change that the others are all there, you just aren’t interacting with them.
Life is more diverse than New York. It has more people and opportunities to connect to. You can choose to interact with any person or act on any of the myriad opportunities you can find.
Not only can you choose to spend time with any one, you have to choose to spend time with some and necessarily have to decline to spend time with the rest. You can live a student life, athlete life, dancer life, singer life, fun life, miserable life, any combination … whatever you can make of it.
Likewise, any person is more complex than you can observe and process at once. You can observe and connect with any part of anyone else you want. Anyone has the capacity for curiosity, calm, ambition, and so on. It’s up to you to choose what part of a person in your life you want to connect with. If you choose to argue with that person, you’re choosing not to connect with other parts. You don’t and can’t connect with everything.
Hopefully you choose based on your values and what emotional reward the choices bring about. You can choose to spend time on things that make you miserable, but you don’t have to. Why would you? If it’s unnecessary, you don’t have to do it. If it’s necessary, it doesn’t have to cause misery — only your (mis)understanding of it would.
Since you only live on Earth for a limited time, and since you can only observe and process so much given your limited senses and brainpower, you can never get to everything. Spending time with dancers isn’t ignoring or denying lawyers. No one at the end of your life will say you spent too much time having fun or singing or dancing and therefore you have to balance it with doing taxes or washing dishes or being miserable.
Likewise, having fun or learning with someone isn’t denying that he or she can be annoying or boring. You only have so much time with him or her.
I plan on experiencing as much as I can in life. I’m starting with the stuff and people I enjoy and learn from and I expect to die before getting to the miserable parts. I’m not losing sleep over missing the misery. They aren’t my priorities and I don’t have time.
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