People Math

There’s always a flurry of activity happening in my brain, but sometimes transferring what I’m thinking onto paper proves unreasonably difficult.

I was on a really awesome writing streak for a while. I built up a backlog of blog posts. And then, somehow, the weeks slipped by and when Niki asked me to send her my next post…I didn’t have one.

I’ve been cobbling things together, gleaning material from past writing exercises and current life goings-on, but the commitment that fueled my earlier posts has been lacking. [Apologies.]

One day I promised Niki I would have at least a handful of posts written by the end of the week—because my intro-level psychology class taught me that stating intent increases the likelihood of actually accomplishing the task. She responded, “That’s funny, I’ve heard the opposite!”

It was in that moment that I developed the following hypothesis: for every psychological study that supports one conclusion, there’s probably another one out there that proves the reverse. Sort of like Newton’s third law.

I don’t remember if I wrote the posts like I said I would. I do remember more recent conversations with my brother and a friend, in which we discussed the unpredictability of people and how it’s simultaneously aggravating and wonderful that you never really know what someone is going to do next. What would life be reduced to if actions and reactions were formulaic?

Maybe it’s a consequence of my novel-reading habit, or maybe I’m just an odd duck (or maybe other people do this too?), but I like to imagine interactions and conversations between myself and significant people in my life before they take place. I’ve imagined telling a crush that I liked him (actually wrote myself a script for that one), my parents that I was moving out, bosses that I was quitting my job, various boys that I couldn’t date them for one reason or another. Et cetera. Sometimes I write these scenarios down and they take on lives of their own, become scenes in books or plays I’ll never finish writing. Most of the time they exist only within my own mind, because when these conversations happen they never play out as envisioned. And what I’ve found, almost invariably, is that I tend to add in a lot more explanation than the people involved in these scenarios ever offer or ask for. Which leads me to conclude that mystery is preferable to the alternative.

And when I think about it, as much as I occasionally wish like Marie-Laure that “life were like a Jules Verne novel…and you could page ahead when you most needed to, and learn what would happen,” I prefer the mystery too, because it makes room for possibilities more exciting and fantastic than even my overactive imagination can conjure up. For that reason, I’m thankful that humans don’t allow themselves to be limited by psychological theories or predicted by mathematical equations. The grey space is a rough place to exist sometimes, but absolutes stifle the beauty that is wildness.

Plus, it keeps writing interesting. I never know where my blog posts are going to end up.

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