Here’s The Thing

Here’s the thing. From time to time, I’m tempted to skip the outline, to ignore the path between the lines. Should I resist the temptation? Of course, I should. Will I resist the temptation? Usually I will, but now and then, I’ll take a chance.

The decision to take a chance can get complicated. It has to do with risk and reward for sure, but mostly has to do with the status quo. If the temptation represents no risk to the status quo, I might as well give in to the temptation. If there are no potentially negative consequences, why not? Even if there may be minimal negative consequences, I might go ahead so long as I’m not making a habit of taking chances. It keeps things from being too bland and boring. Besides, it might work out fine or just be a lot of fun. Even if not, things will still be okay.

If the temptation or opportunity potentially jeopardizes the status quo though, the risk versus reward equation comes into play. Like most everyone else, I have sometimes wondered why people stay in jobs they hate, continue living with people who they dislike or who hurt them, persist in behaving in ways that expose them to negative consequences, or more generally, take no definitive steps to disrupt their status quo.

But as much as I wonder, the answer is easy. They fear an outcome for themselves or perhaps for others that would be worse than the status quo. As bad as it is, trying to change would most likely make things worse for them or for people about whom they care. The risk reward equation strongly tips toward risk and bad outcomes.

Although I do ignore the outline now and then, I’m fairly conservative. I need to be dissatisfied with the status quo before doing much that represents any risk to the status quo. Furthermore, that dissatisfaction has to persist over an extended period of time. I need to be sure dissatisfaction is not just a passing thing. Even then, there has to be a high probability of re-establishing a satisfactory status quo after the disruption. I’m okay with a temporary disruption, but I need to have a clear plan for re-establishing equilibrium. I take some risk, but not a lot.

Why? Fortunately for me, the harshest negative driver I’ve had to deal with is needing to change jobs, including moving. Even then, the prospect of an equal or better job was either guaranteed or extremely likely. There was never much threat to what was for me, a quite acceptable status quo. Sure, I’ve been lucky.

Here’s the thing. Things do happen and situations develop that neither I nor anyone else could have anticipated or planned for. Life does have its random elements. Even so, for me and for other lucky folks like me, the likelihood of experiencing one of those random elements that I can’t manage or at least recover from is quite low. Nonetheless, the possibility is always there.

Unfortunately, for other people, the likelihood of random events or circumstances that they can’t manage or recover from is significantly higher. Why? They don’t have the resources or life experience that make me and others like me less vulnerable. There really is a fundamental unfairness that disadvantages some of us more than others of us.

It’s important for me to emphasize the point that infrequently there is no outline, no way of knowing how to proceed. The truth of this is real and unfairly disadvantages some of us more than others of us. This harsh reality not withstanding, my interest here is on choices and decisions I make and not so much on the randomness and chaos that rarely is at play for me and others like me. My point relates to those times when I knowingly and intentionally choose to ignore the outline, disregard advice or guidance from people who have relevant experience and expertise, choose to listen to my intuition and judgment, those times when I think I know best, whether others agree or not.

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