Thursday, April 26, 2012

pondering opportunity costs

You may try to tell yourself differently sometimes, convince yourself that you can have it all, do it all, that you can hold onto all the strings and still accomplish everything you want..but the truth is, everything has opportunity costs. Everything involves trade-offs, even if they are only implicit ones, theoretical . Taking on something necessitates sacrifice - if not of something you are already committed to, then of the energy needed for more.

That's the thing, you see. You tell yourself you can keep on going with all of it, that you don't need to put down the old sword to pick up the new. Another class? A new job? Another set of burdens when you already have so many others on your plate? A new project? Sure, sure why not. And stubbornly you insist that you can hold onto all of it, that you won't have to set anything aside...and maybe you won't, technically. Maybe you really do have the upper body strength, or the masochistic pure force of will to keep holding both of those swords high above your head through the night... But the extra toll it takes, to keep those swords raised? That exquisite kind of tired-muscle pain? All the concentration it requires, to keep that perfect careful balance, that precarious sense of equilibrium? That is a COST too. That takes something from you, out of you...

An economic concept really, opportunity costs, the idea that nothing is really free. An hour spent at a public park - free, right? It costs you nothing but time. And yet...if you spent that hour working, you would make however much your hourly wage is, right? So really, the cost is there: that wage you choose to give up to enjoy the sun, the fresh air...

You become more aware of it the more frequently you find yourself in situations of...difficulty, too much starting of new things, too much refusing to let go of the old... And yet, what can you do, if those old burdens are just things you cannot give up - too dear to you, tied too deeply into the person you are, or just so ingrained you have no idea of how to even go about leaving them behind? What if the cost of NOT taking up that new adventure, that new possibility, is even higher than the cost of having to learn to balance even more?

You accept it. You accept the cost of what you might take on and what you will not be able to do as a result. Accept that you will have to find a way to somehow balance even more, hold up even heavier swords, make an even more precarious situation work...and so you do, and so it goes. At every new possibility the question: is it worth it, the cost of going this way? Is it worth it, the cost of letting the chance pass by?

What would be heavier in the end - the burden of the effort, or the burden of regret? Sometimes you do not know for sure, cannot see ahead of you. Choice and faith. Balance, balance. How heavy a set of swords are you willing and able to hold up? How long can you keep at it?


Alison Cross said...

I like this post. It's very appropriate for me at the moment, so thank you for that. Keeping the balance - or in my case trying to FIND the balance. Yes, lots for me to think about here.

Ali x

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