If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Thursday 17 January 2013
Read gnomica 1-200 here!
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Knowing when to leave may be the smartest thing anyone can learn.
Burt Bacharach (12 May 1928 – )
What kinds of things do you leave? Relationships, acquaintances, jobs, hobbies, cities, marriages, connections … – there is not end to it!
But – and that is a big but – knowing when to leave is quite different from actually leaving, and thereby hangs much human misery, at least in one’s relationship with oneself. Who has not been in a relationship, for example, that you knew in your heart would never really go anywhere and you also knew that it’s way past time to exit as gracefully as possible and … yet … you just don’t seem able to bring yourself to do it.
Delusions that things really aren’t as bad as somewhere inside you you know they really are; illusions that those initial narratives you spun in your mindless excitement about the possibility of new beginnings have at least some likelihood of materializing if you can just hang on a bit longer and see how things develop. Good luck with that one!
I’m afraid that, speaking just for myself, of course, I’ve not been that smart a sufficient number of times to avoid the unhappy consequences of not acting on what I knew when I knew I should have acted. Maybe it’s the finality, the shutting off of all further possibility for that delicious and knowing, willing self-deception about the way it just is what it is and it ain’t gonna change no matter how much you twist and turn and squirm. Why do we just hang on, all evidence of inevitable failure to the contrary notwithstanding? Small comfort the gratuitous solace that we are, after all, just human … .
Well, knowing when to leave a relationship and not acting decisively on that valuable knowledge applies equally to any number of departures that confront us on the way and that we should execute but don’t. I can think of a few (more or less crazy) adventures I planned or thought seriously about initiating or actually did initiate that come embarrassingly to mind within fairly recent memory – all of which I’d been much better off abandoning long before even my own delusional fantasies forced me to acknowledge the inescapable reality of the absurdity of any real effort to implement the project in question: moving to Punta del Este six months a year, learning to play the piano like Ahmad Jamal, spending a summer driving the United States from Bangor to Bellevue, from Hibbing to Houston – and all the places in between. And so on.
What can I say?
I am, after all, just human!