The scarecrows of fools

A letter arrived yesterday; I didn’t recognize it for what it was, so I didn’t open it until this morning.  I didn’t expect to receive it at all, to be honest.  Its body consisted of a single sentence — a sentence that hit with almost physical intensity, and its effect downgraded my mood from “introspective” to “bitter.”

The subject-matter is not relevant.  Let it suffice that for many years, I had defined myself in part by an assumption that was given the lie by this single-sentence missive.  In fact, a large part of my psychological self-defense strategy rested on believing in this happy and convenient assumption, which has now passed into the realm of unhappy myth.

I’m not sure what I think about this just yet.  Over the last year or so, I began — quite by accident — to separate my long-term goals into several non-overlapping channels.  My letter closes one set of doors, but perhaps it frees me to more aggressively pursue another path. 

T. H. Huxley once said that logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.  The downside to being a child who was continually reassured of his smartness is that I tend to think that everything will work out in the end, consequences be damned.  So I’ve done things over the years that have been counterproductive or even illogical, but I actively ignored the risk on the theory that “I’m me, therefore I’m immune to bad results.” 

Of course, any nitwit can see the irrationality and irresponsibility of such an approach to life.  Heck, even I can.  Yet human-development scientists tell us that the essence of who we are is defined by the time we turn 5.  It’s sometimes easier to think we’ve escaped our limitations than to admit that overcoming them may require more effort than we’re willing to expend, especially when those limitations are rooted in a core personality that has been fixed for so long.

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing some different things.  Mostly business development for the corporation I’ve started (and many thanks to Tony for the “legal reference,” Emilie for the marketing help, Duane and Rick for the conceptual help, and Stacie for the encouragement), but also redoubling my efforts at the gym.  This is a change for the good.

Every action has a consequence.  Major actions usually have major consequences.  In a flash, my worldview underwent a not-insignificant paradigm shift.  Although I’m still a bit unsettled, I’m sure there’s opportunity to exploit.

But still … every now and then, even this fool gets startled by his own scarecrows.

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