Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Longest Post (Part I)

It is rare indeed that I write a long post to this blog, and this is not without good reason. I have long felt that in fact brevity is the soul of wit, and wit most often exists where there is wisdom. After all, without wisdom, one's remarks tend to be ditzy far more often than they are witty.

But to all rules there are exceptions[i], and regular readers may have noticed that over the last few weeks, there has been much written on this blog... but almost none of it by me. The reasons for this do not really matter[ii], but suffice it to say this has caused quite a buildup of issues and ideas and points and stories that are worthy of discussion and those shall be presented now, complete with footnotes and everything[iii]. This will also be done in a rather rambling and random fashion, so if I wish someone a happy birthday (woo, ~Sarah~!!) in the middle, try not to be too distracted.

I was talking with a good friend[iv] last night, and in the midst of our conversation, we noted an important point worth remembering before reading all of what I am about to write: Most wisdom is made up of simple ideas and facts of life brought forward in an easy to understand way. There is little said that is truly innovative, or as someone may have said a few thousand years ago, "There is nothing new under the sun." Enjoy!

As an aside, as I was writing this post, I found an excellent quote from Winston Churchill which sums up the above paragraphs wonderfully:

Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.

Back when I was in school[v], writing essays were rather simple. One merely wrote out the introduction, then the conclusion, and then filled out the space in between with information suited to bridging the reader from that introduction to the said conclusion[vi]. In life, however, conclusions are often much harder to come by. It is often easy to identify issues and discuss them... and sometimes, even come up with conclusions that would in theory work to help solve those problems. Putting theories into practice, though, is far more difficult. Serach saw this great quote a couple of days ago:

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

...

There are occasionally times in one's life where they look back on the decisions they've made and really wonder about them. It is very easy to second guess what we do both on a day-to-day basis and perhaps more common, that which we do that has a huge impact on our lives, albeit well after the moment of decision has long passed. An old friendly face put this so well recently:

What if...

This happens so often, in every aspect of life. We make a decision, and we're final about it. But, then we're haunted by this nagging voice, a voice that makes us reconsider everything.

It's everywhere. In shidduchim, in where you'll live, which direction to take to get somewhere, etc. Sometimes, we never get rid of that feeling, even when in the depths of our heart, we know we did the right thing.

That last line is so perfectly put, but I think there's more to it than that. Even if there were times where we realize now that we did not make the right decision; even if there were times where we'll never know if we did or didn't; it really doesn't matter, does it? Those are the decisions which we've made, and now we must look forward and see where to go on from the point which we are at now. History is incredibly important as a learning tool, but there is little utility in harping on that which has already passed outside of that learning. Should an opportunity arise to 'fix' a wrong decision already made, count yourself lucky; but don't waste all your time focusing on the past.

And yet... focusing on the past is what I am about to do, because I think it is important. I'm not sure what lessons there are to learn, what strategies there are to be implemented, or even necessarily what has gone wrong. I just know that there was something in the past that is missing today, and that it is something that is so very important. There are lessons to be learned, even if I don't know what they are.



[i] This is an inherent contradiction! Note that even if it was not, there are often rules to which there are exceptions but we pay no mind to them regardless. This is referred to in school as a "lo plug", at home as a "because I said so!", and at work as a "that's how I want it done, just like it always is."

[ii] If you're really, really curious, you can feel free to e-mail me. Not that I'll necessarily answer, but I might!

[iii] I've always loved saying "complete with [blank] and everything" at the end of a series of otherwise well-written sentences, just to remind people not to take anything (let alone everything!) too seriously. It's rather effective, even as it often minimizes the importance or intelligence of whatever it is I am trying to say. Then again, I assume that the typical reader has enough brains to recognize what actually is important regardless.

[iv] Interestingly, most of the people I will reference likely read blogs, comment on blogs, or have a blog. What do you think about that?

[v] No comments, please. :)

[vi] Auditing is even simpler - they give you the beginning, the end, and everything in between, and all you have to do is check it! For five months. For 65 hours or so a week. Ugh.


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