(that is, everybody has text conversations like this. right??)
M: Ooooo! Nice final quote on the blog!! I am frequently worried I’m not M-ing enough, or haven’t chosen the best M version to be.
K: Thanks! That quote’s one of my favorites. I think about it a lot.
M: Another I’m fixed on: You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it.
M: But the part I need is the *first* part – you are not obligated to *complete* the work.
K: Right. It’s an interesting tension.
M: I know I have to do the work, and I’m cool with that. Happy to, really. But the thought of having to choose the best right thing and finish it is paralyzing. So I need to remember that I don’t actually have to do that.
K: It’s focusing on “best right thing”-ness that generates the risk of de facto abandoning the work. So one must keep taking a step at a time.
School stuff feels like that to me often.
M: I realized that’s a lot of why I don’t like goal setting (did I tell you this?) — I feel like once I pick a goal, I *have* to do it, even if it turns out in a week/month/6 months I don’t want to anymore/it’s no longer useful
which… logically is wrong of course, but logic isn’t the driver
K: Maybe once you did-? I can see that, in a way…kind of a sunk-cost fallacy thing.
M: So knowing I don’t have to finish – I *will not* finish – is freeing
K: Yes! “Will not” is the most freeing part. And–me too. Especially in my ideas of schooliness.
M: And We Don’t Quit Things. not just our family, but our culture.
K: Precisely. All of us suckers to sunk cost fallacy.
[Man] is embarrassed by the demand that he make decisions implied in his freedom, because he realizes that he lacks the complete cognitive and active unity with his destiny which should be the foundation of his decisions. And he is afraid of accepting his destiny without reservations, because he realizes that his decision will be partial, that he will accept only a part of the destiny, and that he will fall under a special determination which is not identical with his real destiny. So he tries to save his freedom. By arbitrariness, and then he is in danger of losing both his freedom and his destiny.
Paul Tillich, from Systematic Theology as quoted in Paul Tillich: Theologian of the Boundaries, p161
Aside from the part where when Tillich says “destiny” he doesn’t mean what you and I would mean (go, German philosophers!),
it is uncanny how M & I had been amiably chatting through the heart of this quote. Which is part of my reading for theology class today.