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Meditations on Decision

The Roman philosopher Lucretius argued that the universe must be infinite, because if it had a boundary, a man could stand on the boundary and throw a javelin. If the javelin continued on its path, the universe must continue as well. If something stopped it, that thing must be beyond the boundary. The javelin argument is flawed, because it makes assumptions about the topology of our universe - perhaps the javelin would loop around and hit the man in the back! Such a universe may be impossible for us three dimensional beings to imagine in some sense, but it is not logically impossible. In fact, some video games work this way. Run off one edge of the map and you show up on the other!

Still, even if the javelin argument doesn't prove that the universe is infinite, it does remind me of myself. Decisions! Franz Grillparzer says it best: "Let no one say that taking action is hard. Action is aided by courage, by the moment, by impulse, and the hardest thing in the world is making a decision." I am eternally indecisive. I know what I want - it's stated pretty clearly on the homepage of this website. I believe in pursuing the prosperity and flourishing of humankind. My dreams and ambitions are much the same as they were when I was an adolescent. Sometimes I feel like I am javelin cast from the hand of that twelve year old, following an inevitable calculated path. In that obligation there is a kind of terrible freedom. But in time the javelin falls, and I must take the place of the man, and decide my next trajectory. Plotting my course, anticipating obstacles, and all with the clock ticking on my short lifespan! Planning in the real world is real time! Deciding when to decide is part of the challenge.

So I throw myself forward, again and again, into uncertainty, driven by dreams and ambitions, exceeding my boundaries. I am both the man and the javelin, in turns, and all at once. Will I go on this way forever? Or find some boundary I can't pierce? Or will I only come back to where I started?