A Vademecum
for Decisions

Veronica Berenice

Immobilism is the only choice that shows itself, in our meditation, devoid of a real act of will.

Our body lives a continuous revolution and regeneration; despite this, our Thinking Self is reluctant to change. Try observing the students who are choosing their future course of study, those who are wondering about starting a family, or those that, having to choose which mattress to buy, have lost all rationality.  Decisions and choices are, to say the least, tricky matters for humans.

As a first mental experiment, to enter the mindset, I usually take an imaginary journey to my eighty-year-old self, peacefully sitting on a rocking chair (which will most likely be virtual, considering the Metaverse awaiting us), when the people in my life will have passed away, may they rest in peace.

And, by thinking of myself like this I question: what of my past will shine to my eyes? What will bring me a smile of satisfaction?

The assumption is that we human beings need to feel as if we have fully lived; this full life is only accomplished through the choices we have made, which are nothing but crossroads of our life. Every choice made is in our memory, a moment of radical importance, which could have deviated or confirmed one path or another. As many know, the act of making a choice is at the same time the act of excluding, however, when I say ‘at the same time’ I’m referring to that moment in space-time in which we are immersed. While it’s true that to choose A logically means not B, C, or D it’s also clear that we live in a dimension in which time flows forward. Therefore, it’s not at all certain that, in an X variable of time, all the choices together constitute the soil that foresees the rise of unknown variables, which could be the rebirth of an old phoenix or the appearance of new opportunities. Immobilism is the only choice that shows itself, in our meditation, devoid of a real act of will. However, we will not cover this in this little space, because we are children of the West and here we touch on deep thematics belonging to Eastern Philosophy, which deserves much more than a sagacious line.


Going back to where we left off, to those who might be asking what the range of solutions are, it is essential to note that it is a question that is complex, but not impossible to answer! At least in,  metaphysical and non-personal terms let’s say.

According to the mathematician George R. Price, our life (like the Whole) is entirely ruled by a law that bears his name, and that describes how the totality of individuals will necessarily be subdivided in relation to a finite number of categories taken into consideration. For example: how many people will succeed, how many will remain average, and how many will not succeed at all. These quantities are already defined and those finite numbers are fixed and stable, without suffering from external fluxes at all. So, we have given an example of how there are, in Reality, certain systemic needs to which we are forcefully succumbing; but there is no need to despair! It’s good to remember that among the forces acting upon Reality there’s also our will. We are ‘almost free’, as Pico Della Mirandola wrote. In other words, free will is capable of moving us from one spot to another (i.e., between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’) in Price’s hierarchy, but what we consider fair doesn’t necessarily need to be assimilated into current values; in other words, there is no guarantee that I have interest in being the most famous living editorial director.


The mathematical ratios are the marked field, our will is the moving force…and the rest of the world?


Like many, when I think of a universal model for choices, I think that the first concrete step to start moving our small grey cells [1]  is to ask for advice. It might sound trivial, but we shouldn’t banalize it more: I am not suggesting it because I think that someone could give us a good piece of advice, but because any research we can define as such, begins from observation! And Philosophy, a way more talentueux than myself, has by now handed me the modus operandi of thought: one always begins by studying those who have already unravelled, in their own way, that same problem and only and only then can one see one’s own personal idea grow.  

The step is only a good one under the condition that we are not overwhelmed by somebody else’s fervor; indeed, the others, who don’t even want to think about making the wrong decision (especially if one of those ends up radicalizing the whole life), will defend it to the bitter end with great proselytism.

Therefore, the others could be useful in suggesting different perspectives but aren’t locomotives we can hook on to. They play the role of an adversary, from whom we can study the moves or learn strategies while defending boundaries and identity. In the act of choosing, they also put the power of applying labels ino play, axioms, yet, they have the power to change. This happens because the others as well are subjected to time and fashions, as well as to our influence on them (or, as yours truly likes saying, manipulation); therefore, the glance the rest of the world has on us changes and it does so because we all are polyhedric and in constant evolution. The risk of having an axiom attached to you forever is a risk only if you prefer immobility to movement and, as we’ve already said , we are not ready to consider this.


Moving towards the epilogue of this vademecum, and here I would like to quote a motto, which I find inspiring: from east to west, from west to east. This motto’s secret is also inserted in the space-time in which we live. It would make no sense to mortify ourselves in the small space in which we can move from the inside (east) to the outside (west) and vice versa, because it’s always from the present that we move towards the future, whichever it might be, and in that present, we are called to act upon; whether you are a street cleaner or an influential politician.

The right choice will manifest itself on ‘its own’, through what we may call the ‘decisional process’, which has lots to do with the above-mentioned universal macro-variables. Secondly, it’s clear that the place where you were born and live, the historical moment, the political stability, pandemics, individual health, and family background, along with what we can create as adults…influence us in their own way.


In conclusion comes the explicitation of my non-requested advice: once we have flown on the general, we will need to get down to the particular and finally create a tangible and honest list of pros and cons, a list that would be inclusive of all those factors that for us, and only us, are of some sort of influence. Thus, in my point of view, the decisional process will find its human and intellectual identity. 


Good luck to all those that are in this moment making big or small choices; may the seriousness of a playing child be your pennant.


[1]  Frase celebre del protagonista della serie Poirot (Agatha Christie’s Poirot) è una serie televisiva britannica incentrata sull’omonimo personaggio, Hercule Poirot, ideato da Agatha Christie.

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