Wednesday, August 27, 2008

To eat or not to eat...your cake



Of late, I've been doubling as a guidance counselor for a number of my friends. Not because my life has been immune from imperfections, mistakes and an assortment of other hiccups. But simply because I internalize while the issues of others appear to be coming to a head.

During this recent string of conversations that have occurred, there has been one glaringly salient recurring theme that has been called upon my name repeatedly. In short, at our tender ages, my friends and I are eager to come to grips with desires of having our cake and eating it too. In the most literal sense, it becomes clear that to eat your cake means to cease to have possession of your cake. And to have your cake, effectively precludes the possibility of eating your cake. Both the act of consumption and the act of preservation bring great joy to man and woman alike when it comes to such sweet and tempting possessions. Yet, in pursuit of the pleasures at one end of the spectrum, we are damning our pleasure potential on the other. Therefore, certain occasions hold true this rendering of homo economicus as a rational being, constantly seeking the opportunity costs and opportunity benefits associated with a given situation.

Unfortunately, this notion of having your cake and eating it too fails to translate into tangible real world scenarios with great fluidity. A relationship can AND can't be represented by cake. A working experience can AND can't be viewed in terms of a baked good. The definitions of "having" and "eating" are nebulous, at best, when trying to explain a dilemma that one is facing. As we try to ease our way into major life choices by using metaphors about dessert, we fail to acknowledge the value of making a choice and sticking to it. Too often do we forget the importance of drawing a line in the sad and deciding which side we are going to stand on. We approach problems with yearnings to side step and prolong the status quo. Because we live in a world marked by constant change, we simultaneously unleash constant calls for change while also failing to evaluate whether the consequences and repercussions associated with those changes are really capable of improving our happiness, satisfaction, health, wealth, etc.

I feel that I am letting my friends down when my words echo those things that they already know to be true. I feel bad when I continously list the pros and cons associated with having your cake and/or eating your cake. I feel bad when I cannot say with 100% certainty, that everything will be fine and that everything will work itself out. Instead, I remind them that ultimately the decision is one that must be made alone. I remind them that they must truly ask themselves how sweet the cake really is and if its sweetness is best realized via possession or consumption of the cake. I urge them to view their life choices as being both irreversible and reversible. I let them know that following their decision will be a wave of regret or a wave of relief. There is no way that we can know with any degree of certainty what the outcomes associated with one's decision will be. Instead, we simply know that as adults we must stand alone when making decisions. We must make decisions that serve our own self-interests while also remaining mindful of the interests of the people that we know and love. Brewing over this "to eat or not to eat" dilemma is merely a sign of maturation and an abandonment of impulse decision making that likely colored our teenage years.

And as a friend of answer seekers, I can only say that no matter what decision is made, I will be there to lend my support.

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