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What is Free Will?

Oh, the dualities of decision-making!

Dearest Doodle Soupsters,

What does your soul have to say when the world feels still and you don’t feel so much pressure to feel a certain way?

I’ve written about how clarity and movement can come from a time of pause, moments of stillness. My series of artworks all about this concept is called Into the Transcendent Point. Yet, as much as these paintings express a precious sense of calm that I do value, feeling calm all of the time isn’t my goal.

I also value feeling deeply. I value my experience of pain, of excitement, of anger, of frustration, of empathy. So, no, I don’t want to spend each and every moment in stillness, in a meditative state.

I let myself feel. I travel outside of my comfort zone. I expose myself to my fears. And I take breaks. I rest. I return to stillness, reconnect to my peace and to my truth. I find the overlap between my emotions and my rational thoughts. I reconnect to wisdom, each time a little deeper, a little clearer.

And then, I move. I travel a little further. I get uncomfortable again. I let myself feel it. And I take more breaks. I take more long walks listening to the breeze. In. Out. In. Try again.

Being human is weird, right?

Staying in one place is not really what we do.

And that’s okay.

Humans are not trees, or rivers, or rocks, or flowers. We can connect to those metaphors (be still like a rock, flow like a river) because some part of us shares something with trees, rivers, rocks, and flowers.

Yet, there’s still some other element to the human experience, I think. What that is? I could write a bajillion words and I still don’t know if I’d find the right ones for that question. I don’t know if I can really answer that question.

Above is “Transcend No. 1,” from my Into the Transcendent Point collection. I created this work by painting layers of blue, green, white shades, then carving a continuous contour line through the final layer. The work's soothing colors co-exist with this line's rapid twists and turns weaving through the painting.

There’s something about us that’s continuous and there’s something about us that’s constantly evolving, transforming, building, changing.

We’re both.

We’re of the Earth and of humanity. And humanity and Earth are simultaneously connected and separate somehow. What to do with that? I don’t know.

The concept of duality, all these opposing truths co-existing, feels so accurate, both strange and beautiful …

What is free will?

There are people who look at the mounting pile of causes and effects … who believe our choices don’t matter … who believe in fatalism, the idea that everything’s predetermined and thus, inevitable.

There are people who believe everything is within our control … who believe in the idea that everything comes down to merit and hard work … it may go something like this, oh, you’re in trouble? What did you do to cause that trouble? … or, what were you wearing? … oh, you were asking for it … or, ah, you just want someone to blame?

Strange, isn’t? There’s a lot in common between these seemingly opposite viewpoints. Both can be ways of mentally escaping the messiness of reality, finding a mental shortcut to avoid feeling compassion or to avoid an urge to take actions that may rock the boat, be inconvenient or even dangerous … ways of escaping the dualities of life, skipping over what’s unknown and what exists between extremes.

When I write about my powerlessness to prevent the sexual abuse I experienced as a child, it doesn’t mean I didn't get to make choices. It means that my choices weren’t going to stop me from being abused. The choice to abuse a child? My gym teacher made those choices, not me. The choice to look away from the signs instead of finding curiosity, instead of paying attention? Adults around me made those choices. The abuse was outside of my control.

And so my trying to stop him and not being able to? It doesn’t mean I don’t have power. It doesn’t mean I don’t have choices. It means that stopping the abuse, well, I didn't get to do that. It wasn't one of the options I got to choose from.

I believe in my power. And I believe in seeing reality for what it is. I take off my rose-colored glasses and I take in the view. It’s a beautiful, messy, incredible, cruel, complicated, awe-inspiring, funny, heart-breaking, heart-warming, very strange world we live in … I see both, so many both’s …

Sometimes, people refer to the transience of a human being’s lifespan as proof that nothing really matters.

In other words, whatever you create, whatever you love, whatever you do in this world, someday we will all be dead anyway.

Yet, this argument has a major logical fallacy — We exist now.

Haven’t you been impacted by something in the present moment? A song? A poem? Human touch? A hug? A conversation?

All that’s unfolding in the present moment. And those moments will have always existed.

No matter how many years into the future, today will have been real. A part of history, whether remembered or not, we experience it now.

What can matter more than that?

Sometimes, I worry: Am I missing something? Is there something I’m supposed to be doing that I’m not? How do I know if my art matters? How do I know if I’m focusing on the right things? What if? What if? What if not?

Yet, there are things I do know: I know that I love creating art. I know that I love sharing my art with others. I know that reflecting and writing is meaningful to me. I know that singing feels like the most incredible rush in the world. I know that creating art, music, and writing helps me express myself, helps me find clarity, helps me connect with who I am, makes me feel alive.

For all the arguments of philosophers and scholars, scientific research, all there is to learn and question and explore, sometimes what we need is to cut through all the complexity for a moment and say —

Hey, I’m here. What do I see right now, right where I am? What do I feel right now? Let me notice the sensations of breathing. Let me sense the breeze on my skin.

I am made of atoms — just as true as I made of flesh and blood and something unquantifiable, just as true as I am body, mind, and soul … Just as true as I am more than the sum of my parts, just as true as we are more than the sum of our parts … Just as true as I am here …

Just as true as I am typing these words out and a little later, I’ll share them and you’re here. You’re here reading these words.

What do you want to do with that?

What do you need? Is it rest? Is it to make a choice? A new one? Is it to take a break from making choices? Only you can know and only you can choose.

We are at once very connected and very separate.

There is so much out of our control. So much we don’t get to choose. Just as true as that makes what we do get to choose meaningful and precious. Just as true as if we obsess over every decision, that’s not a very fun way to exist.

Just as true as we’re still here existing anyway. Just as true as here comes another moment. Choose again. Try again.

Creating and sharing right now in the present moment,

Nicole Sylvia Javorsky

P.S. Music Corner Related music for today’s bowl of Chicken Doodle Soup … listen to my EP, starting somewhere!


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