As it happens, I am writing this from the thirteenth floor of an upscale financial tower, gently gazing out the window into the windows of the offices in the other upscale financial towers containing people who are gently gazing out of their windows and I think, There is more sun here than I would expect.
This is not where I usually spend my days. But it is where I am today.
When I took my first bite I immediately spit it out reflexively. I couldn't believe it...it was rancid! But then, I realized...it wasn't. It was...imported. And laced with pesticides and who knows what else. The average American would never know the difference.
And it occurred to me, as I swallowed my pride and my toxic kiwi, that when you get right down to it, life is nothing but a series of sacrifices. Moment by moment, we weave a tapestry of trade-offs, releasing something we want for something we want more. Something we should do for something we must. Someone we love for someone we need. Comforts that soothe for truth that compels.
And it occurred to me that the people who are Really Good At Life have always known this. You know who I'm talking about: those magical beings who appear to skip effortlessly through existence, celebrating each day in an inexhaustible state of ease and abundance, welcoming one success after another with nary a hair out of place. They are simply excellent mathematicians, or statisticians or risk assessors or what have you. They look at a situation, any decision - big or small - and they know exactly how much it will cost.
I vaguely remember someone (a magazine article? wise ex-boyfriend? stranger at a party?) suggesting once that happiness was linked to the proportional relationship of reality measured against expectations. There are a lot of holes in this theory which I won't bother to explore, but the concept itself is quite interesting.
My parents love to tell the story of when I was six or seven and I came home from school crying because the teacher had introduced a math lesson on a topic I didn't already understand. They asked if I understood after the teacher had gone through the lesson and sniffling I told them I did, but I was still so embarrassed and frustrated that I didn't know it all when the class had started. So trying not to laugh they had to explain that actually the point of school was not just to practice stuff you already knew but to learn new things you had never even heard of before and apparently I was incredulous...but comforted in the end.
That was a long time ago now, and I am pleased to report I have since become an expert in undertaking endeavors for which I am not remotely skilled or qualified at the outset, so having no idea what the hell is going on the vast majority of the time is now a very comfortable, familiar feeling to me.
But as I take time to consider these Really Good At Life people, I can't help but wonder whether there is only a simple mathematical skillset between us. The ability to look at each moment, person, crisis, opportunity and decide how much it's worth, how much it costs, what it will yield, what risk it carries and then perhaps even more importantly, the ability to decide, quickly and definitively, how to proceed.
Decision-making has never been my strong suit, either. A wildly successful CEO I once knew reminded me once of the Latin root of the word, and that essentially it means to cut yourself off from any other option. Otherwise it's not really a "decision" at all. That struck me deeply at the time and has stuck with me. I browsed a Tony Robbins' book once and I remember his suggestion to practice making small decisions that don't matter every day, so that you build up this decision-making muscle inside you for when you really need it.
So perhaps it's really that that the magical people have going for them, and they're not really expert Risk Assessors at all. They just know how to make a call and move on. Moment to moment.
Because a moment is all it takes for a plane to come crashing through a window and change the world forever. Because life is only one moment after the next, after all.
Where are you hesitating?