Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I don't want to

Sometimes I have weird conversations with people about what I want.  I have this way of looking at my own desires that most people find totally bizarre and yet it seems so natural to me.  For example, awhile ago I was talking to someone about rock climbing.  They were trying to convince me that rock climbing walls in Toronto were great and I should go to one of those places regularly.  They sound great and all, I said, but evidently I don't want to go to one.

But rock climbing walls are so great, they insisted.  There are so many reasons to go!

I wasn't saying that I had good reasons not to go, just that I know about rock climbing.  It sounds interesting.  In the past I have enjoyed climbing walls.  But I don't go to them, despite this knowledge and experience, so all the evidence says that I don't want to go climbing.

To me this just makes sense.  I could go climbing, it isn't like we are talking about visiting the moon or yachting, both of which require resources I don't possess.  I just don't do it so my conclusion is that I don't want to do it.  Not for any good reason, mind you, but facts don't necessarily require good reasons.

I want to go to the gym and lift weights.  I can tell because I end up doing that.  I want to play video games and slay internet monsters.  I can tell because I do that.  I don't want to go climbing, because I don't do that.

To me it makes all kinds of sense to put evidence above subjective feelings.  I experience the feeling of wanting to go climbing, so in that sense I want to, but I don't do it, so I conclude that I don't actually want to.  I just experience a feeling of happiness associated with it.  I suppose that temporary feeling is weak, or short lived, and it isn't enough to convince me to schedule it into my day.

Normal people don't think like this.  They look at me like I have lost my mind when I talk this way.  They measure their wants based on their temporary feelings rather than on the evidence of what they have done in the past.  I get that this is the way most people operate, but it seems so foreign to me.  Shouldn't you use science to figure things out, even things like "how do you feel?"

I guess the answer is no, for the populace at large.

This is one of those ways in which I try to fit in when other people talk.  Most of the time I know that speaking like this will confuse, anger, or frighten the person I am talking to so I just pretend that I am a regular person and respond in ways that they expect.  I put on my person face and say things that make no sense to get through social interactions.  I suppose I am lucky that I can figure out what to say when I want everything to be smooth, even if I often choose not to say it.

I wonder which of the people that read this will nod their heads and say "yup, that makes sense!"  I suspect Sthenno will, but as for everyone else... I just don't know.


  1. Makes sense to me. I thought I'd cook fabulous, healthy meals when I retired but it turns out that I still don't like to cook as much as I like to knit. So I don't. And I probably won't.

  2. I have rock climbed. I didn't get a great thrill out of it. I don't rock climb anymore, though if there were special circumstances (eg. children's birthday party or something) I'd do it without much too protest. I'm just not interested in that particular challenge, or particular suited to it (it seems to favour the smaller and lighter crowd). Competing with my self doesn't motivate me as much as competing with others. I don't like chalk on my hands. I'm a really sweaty guy. It seems kind of pointless to up and down a wall (this also influence my decision to stop downhill skiing).

    From a certain perspective, you're saying that you don't know why you prefer the gym to rock climbing. You can't break down, rationally, the underlying reasoning.

    I think I can understand why people might be puzzled by this perspective. It doesn't seem like you to abandon the quest for understanding, even if it's of your own motivation.

    1. I wouldn't say I have abandoned it exactly... I just think that a lot of the time we don't know nearly as much as we think we do, and accepting the limits of our knowledge is useful.