Monday, April 30, 2012

Why do 1,209,600 seconds make such a difference in life decisions?

What is it about 1,209,600 seconds that seems to make such a difference for me?

I was just thinking about major life decisions I have made in my past and it seems that it's about that many seconds, or if you prefer, 203,493 minutes, or 3,391 hours, or 14 days, or two weeks, or a fortnight as they used to say, seem to make all the difference in the world to me in making major life decisions.

Before I went into the military, I spent two weeks thinking about it. I researched the world's situation. What was going on in the world? Where might I end up? If I joined the military, the Air Force as it turned out, what would happen to me? I read newspapers, listened to the news, talked to people. I "educated" myself about what I was about to get myself into.

Then, before I started college I also spent two weeks thinking about it. What's there to think about? I considered that before college, I was to some degree both knowledgeable and ignorant. After I finished college, I would then be some larger degree of both knowledgeable and ignorant. More ignorant? After all that learning? Wouldn't I be less ignorant? Actually, no. Because the more you learn, the more you learn how much you do not know, and so by increasing your degree of "smarts", you are also increasing your known degree of ignorance.

And that actually in part, was what I spent two weeks thinking about.

So, did I really want that increased knowledge and hopefully, wisdom (experience plus knowledge)? I was blissfully ignorant before college. I knew that. But once I got a degree I would have increased my knowledge of the world, History and the universe and I would then know more about what was good and what was evil, if you will. Anyway, the Yin and Yang of the Universe, overall more knowledge of Life. I knew I would increase the quality of my life in learning more about the Arts and Sciences, but I also knew I was be more aware of the evils in the world, possibly (probably) many things I should know about, but maybe do not want to.

And so, I "educated" myself about getting an education. Along with great knowledge, can come great heartache, great responsibility. Could I handle the painful side of acquiring a university degree as well as the fun and happy side? I really wasn't so sure at first.

But in the end, I decided that the military was my best option at that time. After I got out I decided that going to college was also my best option, at that time. I went for a two year degree and got it. Then, considering I had hated school in my K-12 years and although I swore when I graduated High School that I would never step foot back in school ever again, I had to decide if I wanted to continue on.

I liked the idea of a University over that of a college, because you are taught by Professors who have to have a Doctorate. You are not taught by teachers with only a Masters degree. Don't get me wrong, a Masters degree is a better than just a B.A. degree, but I have always tried to get the best instructors and teachers I could find.

As it turned out, in some ways the Military wasn't the best choice for me, for my personality, as it isn't for a lot of people, I'm sure. But I made it through and it woke me up to life (like getting a "wood shampoo", hit in the head with a wood bat, repeatedly), and I also got my college education paid in full. So even though I pretty much hated Military life, I loved going to college and really loved university life. I liked the people, the learning, the stretching of your mind and your limits, much in how I did in the Military. The Military taught me that I could do anything. College taught me things I couldn't have learned if I hadn't first had that basic understanding that I could do it, I could achieve seemingly impossible goals. Then the University tightly packed massively more amounts of information in my head.

At my two year college, my Philosophy teacher (a guy with a Master's degree who was working on his doctorate while he taught us), said that if we decided to go to a University and get a four year degree after we get our two year A.A. degree, that it would seem at first a shock and impossible. It would be painful, but he believed, he told us, that we could, all in his class there before him on that day, "rise to the occasion when necessary.

In fact he said that for the most part, people do tend to rise to the occasion", as we tend to do in life when are called upon. But we tend to spend a lot of time worrying about how we won't rise up and so frequently we won't end up in those challenging situations. Fear can drive us sometimes not to try. Which many times, is simply too bad for us. Because then we never get a chance to experience just how much we can achieve when we have to.

And to be sure, on my first day of my University life, at 28, my first Professor ever told us to read forty pages out of the text book for tomorrow's lecture. I was a little stunned but I thought, as did the others I spoke to about it after class, that we would just somehow, get it done. Now, many of us were used to showing up the first day of school (for all our lives up till then) only to do nothing until the next day, or in some schools, the next week. But this was a University. Time was short between classes so we all headed to our next class with only a little trepidation.

But, my next Professor said the same exact thing at end of class. I couldn't believe it, what was the deal with forty pages, again, and by next class time. By end of school day, I ended up with over one hundred pages total that I had to read before the next class. Needless to say, I was in shock. By end of day, my girlfriend and some of our new (and old) friends were also in shock.

But I survived. And so did they and eventually, two years later, we were all graduating and considering, should we go for a Master's degree? Which was another two years of classes. Having seen what my Master's Teaching Assistants (TAs) were being put through, I decided I wanted some time off and so, I now only have a Bachelors of Arts and Letters from Western Washington University.

Still, it all comes back around to those nearly a million and a quarter seconds that I had to take to make up my mind about making a major life change; whether or not to go into the Service, and then whether to go to college, or not. Those are only two examples in my life of the two week period of education and rumination and there have been others. But for some reason two weeks seems to be my cutting off point.

So whenever I do have the luxury of time, I try to use that two week period to learn about the decision I'm about to make, and the really think about it, over and over. Not to stress out about it, not at all, but to academically, emotionally, even spiritually, consider all the obvious and newly learned about elements, and then in the end, feel that I can effectively and hopefully accurately, make a good, solid, informed, decision.

But why two weeks?

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