Saturday, November 27, 2004

The tyranny of freewill

With my own two hands. This is how I wanted to build my life. I rejected help. I reject kindness. I rejected friendship, sympathy, conversation, company, warmth, guidance, love. I rejected these things, not for pride, but for a promise. It wasn't even my promise. It belonged to a middle-aged man, from a television sitcom. He, the fictional father of troublesome teen twins, made the promise during sweeps weeks in 1988. This happened halfway through an extended one hour episode, which dealt with teen pregnancy. (This was before the Seinfield era, before sitcom script writers realized that each episode didn't necessarily require a theme, and an associated moral lesson.)

The promise was made with such certainty, such conviction, that I was powerless to the assimilation. My fictional father had made a decision. I was eight years old, and this was my first contact with a meaningfully exercise of free will.

My mother couldn't make decisions. She had even told me so. As far as I knew, my father had only made one: the decision to leave. My teachers had long ago replaced decision with ritual. My friends weren't much better; even at eight, apathy garnered respect. The coolest kids didn't care about anything.


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