Wednesday, November 3, 2010

If you start laughing, we'll have to go to Walmart!

I've been thinking lately about cause and effect.  As a former psychology major (and giant dork), I find it fascinating that if one could identify and correctly interpret all factors of any given scenario, then the outcome would be obvious.  For example, if I knew everything about a job for which I am interviewing and everything about my interviewers, then I could say just the right thing to get the job!  Or if I knew which buttons caused my internet browser to blow up, I would stop pushing those buttons and save myself a lot of time and frustration.

Alas, we live in a complicated world and it is impossible to predict the future without a crystal ball or a group of nerds with a supercomputer and advanced statistical software.  Unless, of course, you are my nephew.  Last week, Ashley and James stopped by with Jack while they were out running errands.  Jack ran in the front door very excited to show me that he had one of his favorite treats, Bug Juice.  Bug Juice is basically sugar, water, and neon food coloring, so you can see why he loves it so much.  Unfortunately, the sugar started going to his head and he got a little rowdy, even for a three-year-old boy.  While I thought it was kind of funny watching him run around in circles and shrieking like a pterodactyl, his parents were less amused.  It was then that Jack put life in perspective for me.

James managed to stop Jack's cycle of motion long enough to ask him one very important question: "What did we say would happen if you got Bug Juice?"  The answer was clear, concise, and showed a brilliant understanding of how the world works: "No cryin', no screamin', no fussin', no yellin'!"  It is really as simple as that.  If we refrain from acting like possessed children in horror movies, then we can feast on neon-colored liquid sugar.  Or, you know, the grown-up equivalent which is something like -- if you work hard and build a decent resume, then you can get a decent job.  Or if you stop downloading stupid internet games, you probably won't crash your computer.  But it's basically the same thing.

I was very thankful to my nephew for inspiring this epiphany.  It was enough to make me think that there was some truth to that whole "we should all try to be more like children because they are innately wise and innocent and uncorrupted by society" nonsense.  Then Jack shared another pearl of wisdom with me: "If you start laughing, we'll have to go to Walmart!" Somehow, I don't think that was true.  Then he told that he ordered his Bug Juice from Panera, which his parents assured me was not the case.  So I pretty much figured out that I should not rely on Jack for any sort of life-changing insights.

I still believe in cause and effect.  I think that it's an important concept to understand and that we'd all be better off if we took more time to consider the impact of our actions.  But I also believe that there is more to life.  When I look at my life, I know that the blessings that surround me are not a result of my actions.  Thank God, my life is a lot better than what I've earned!