A place to keep my memories, in case the worst happens
by Lily  August 21, 2013 4:12 pm

If you break down all of the pros and cons of a situation, you end up with a very distorted view of it. One assumes that by breaking down a situation into pros and cons, you can get a more even-kiltered view of it and make a sound decision; however, when you break something down, you ultimately take away that which holds it together. The essence of the thing.

That being said, it is important to break things down from time to time. To try to figure out how the pieces fit and form the essence. That irreplaceable bit that causes them to be whole.

To explain this in a more detailed way, I’ll give an example. Take a friendship, any friendship. You can break down the pros and cons of maintaining said friendship, and from there decide whether or not you wish to be friends with this person, as such:

Good conversationalist

Not good on a hunt or expedition
Bad at answering questions

By numbers alone, this friendship doesn’t seem worth it. If you look at just the pros and cons list, it would appear that this friend is simply not worth the time or energy. Indeed, if someone approached me with this list, I would probably advise them to find better people to spend time with.

I’m sure, though, that everyone has at least one friend where if they broke it down into a pros/cons list, it would look similar to this. You’d wish you could flesh out the pros list, but given how we describe things with our language, there just aren’t enough terms to express how meaningful this friendship is to you or how complicated the relationship is. It also can’t convey how everything is ultimately situational.

The hypothetical friend described above might be someone you only ever see while in town center, so immediately the not good on a hunt or expedition becomes negated. If all you do is sit in town and talk, then being clumsy becomes negated. Depending on the type of greed, greed may also be negated – if it’s wealth greed, it is negated by sitting in town and talking; if it is attention greed, well, that’s different.

Assuming it’s wealth greed, we’ve knocked three things off the cons list immediately with regards to our situational friendship. I could continue to knock more off with realistic situations and eventually you would end up with a friend that you see in town periodically, speak casually with, and have a great time talking about current events with. This friendship may not be the most important to you, but it may be an important friend to you that you wish to maintain.

Everything has an essence, and it has to do with the entirety of the situation. You can’t ignore the circumstances surrounding a situation when deciding if something is good, bad or in between. Ultimately, it is for each person to decide if the entirety of the circumstances are worth it for them.

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1 Comment

  1. Reply by Drablak August 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Great post Lily. I say you choose your friends among those whose pros you appreciate and whose cons you can tolerate 🙂

    But what I take from your post is that it’s not always possible to analyse or rationalise components of a situation separately, and I agree with you.

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