First appointment with the psychoanalyst. They sit down, face to face. After some small talk, the question arises: what did he expect from the analysis?
He didn’t really want many things to change. He only wished he were a bit more confident that one day he would not regret the decisions he had been making.
Can this confidence exist?
Yes, it can.
But would that be truly useful?
As a matter of fact, he aspired to be capable of taking full advantage of the experiences that a higher degree of freedom could provide. Those decisions he had been making were bounded that way. At least that is what he felt.
Someone who wants more freedom wishes to experiment more, right? Why would anyone wish more freedom if it would not be for the sake of trying something different?
But what if the fear of future regrets were enough to jeopardize the enjoyment of the new adventures now? What if these new adventures became overthought? Then what would be the purpose of that freedom?
He might as well take some steps back. And abdicate freedom on behalf of more comfort. On behalf of safety. Thus limiting, nevertheless, the possibility of new experiences. But then, wouldn’t future resentment be related to missing out on opportunities? Wasn’t that just where he started?
The wish today of being confident that there will be no regrets tomorrow… It doesn’t really seem compatible with freedom acquisition. It looks more like some sort of attachment to the comfort he was only apparently leaving behind. Attachment to the impossibility of failing.
“Go, and don’t be afraid.” However, that is exactly where he started from.
“Stay, and avoid creating new fears.” And die wishing to know how things could have been.
Dissatisfaction was bigger than fear. And he moved on, fearful indeed. But he moved on. He wholeheartedly wanted to make the most of whatever he would face. Because fearless living doesn’t exist: if this is actually the case, at least live.
Confidence of not having regrets is something like anti-experimentation: only try that, which is known to work out fine. This is not trying. This is repeating what has already been proven right.
He remembered his disappointment when he discovered, as a child, that birds normally glide through currents of air to soar around. The cool thing would be if they could go from A to B only according to their will – regardless of the forces of nature, as he would walk from A to B, in control of his path! However, today he really wished he could just glide along. Along the path of least resistance.
He also thought that, among the economists he used to work with, it wasn’t hard to find those who would regard statistical models as the Holy Grail. “Find the correct statistical specification in order to make accurate forecasts”. He knew the absurdity of that. Precise foresight of human behavior? Only under the myopia of an extreme rationalism that would grant mathematics the key to universal truth. The Holy Grail: human essence. God.
An illusion. Among the many characteristics that separate mankind from other animals is its ability to subjugate nature. The ability of understanding, foreseeing and then controlling nature. The capacity of thinking the world, beyond the instincts of the species, to then change it. In other terms, it is all about learning and acting according to personal experience and to momentary circumstances, which obviously implies that each individual perceives the planet in its own peculiar way at each different moment and, as a consequence, take particular decisions on the best way of acting.
The instinct of not only being guided by instincts.
And it is precisely this singularity that allows humans to forecast and act on the rest of nature that will end up making human action only vaguely foreseeable and, hence, uncontrollable. As humans can forecast, they have become unpredictable. There’s a lot of Austrian Economics literature about this.
We are dealing with beings that, for having awareness that everything might always be different, are called humans. Beings that, when tied up to a routine, act against the instinct of acting against the instinct (else, they act according to the repetition compulsion, this residual of animal drive still alive in us… damn Freud.) Maybe this is why they aspire for freedom. That characteristic, which has led us to have “controlling power” has paradoxically led us to yearn “not being controlled.”
He then realized that wishing he had the confidence he would not have future regrets meant aspiring to control the uncontrollable. And that this would hence reduce his human experience.
He had no idea how his future would be. And if he knew what was to come, would he need to live it? Would it be fun?
Not knowing what is ahead, he may put aside his obsessive controlling illusion and then just try and feel where the winds would blow. He would try and forget to pursue some sort of imaginary comfort and do whatever he felt like. If he felt like it indeed, there was no way he would regret. Why would we live other than living for our desires?
By the way, when a bird flies, it probably doesn’t think it is going to fall. Indeed, a bird can fly. But it can only fly.