Friday, August 26, 2011

a teaspoon of life

I was at my parent's house the other day and when my stomach growled for a mid-morning snack, I reached into the cereal cupboard and pulled out my dad's favorite cereal, Life. Upon opening the box and unfurling the neatly rolled bag, I found just a few crumbs barely filling a corner of the plastic.

"Mom, look," I called over to the next room. "Dad left just a teaspoon of Life in the bag. Why wouldn't you just finish that?"

Upon further inspection, I discovered that the aforementioned crumbs were about 90% sugar crystals. Aha! I thought. Well, who would want to eat a mouthful of sugar? And so it seemed that the not-very-scintillating mystery was solved.

But my mom was still stuck on what I had just said. "A teaspoon of life," she mused aloud. "What would that be? And would it be a good thing? Or not?"

Most of us want "full" lives. That is the word we so often use to describe having a fulfilling job, creating our own families with the ones we love, doing something meaningful, finding our own answer to the elusiveness of happiness. How can a teaspoon be that full?

A teaspoon is on the smaller side of spoon measurements for baking and cooking. A tablespoon, the biggest spoon measurement, is equal to about 3 teaspoons. Clearly a tablespoon of life would be a lot better than a teaspoon. On the other hand, there are 1/2 teaspoons and 1/4 teaspoons and even 1/8 teaspoons. Definitely worse.

But is it that simple? Is the answer to everything always bigger and more? There is a documentary directed by Christopher Bell called Bigger Faster Stronger. Bell is a wrestler-turned weight lifter-turned confused and disillusioned adult who chose not to take steroids while his two brothers both have taken them for years. The film description on IMDB reads: "In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, fastest, strongest country in the world?" Bell takes as his starting point a follow-up question: Is this competitive and consummate approach truly bringing positive results? And so, I ask, would a billion tablespoons of life be better than a teaspoon? Is a huge athlete on steroids happier than a tall, sinewy MIT professor?

Can we measure life at all? And is that the way to advance towards what might actually be significant and meaningful? Most people would agree that you cannot measure love. But people dreamily seem to believe that you can measure life. Perhaps if you approached them with the question in a philosophical discussion, they would argue: no, like love, you cannot measure life. Nonetheless, so many people spend all of their time and money and effort compiling 'things': the biggest house on the block with the newest kitchen and entertainment room, the most luxurious SUV, the vacations to St. Barts and Jackson Hole, the kids and dog to fill out the picture. Often, there is never any discerning hard look at what they might actually want out of life... just that competitive, "superlative-ness" urging them onward towards bigger, better, best, most.

In reality, I don't know that a teaspoon of life would be all that bad. There is something elegant about a teaspoon, certainly more refined than the awkward bulkiness of the tablespoon. If you cook a lot, you know that when subtly directing a dish, you most often add a teaspoon or less of a spice. And that does the job. More and it wrecks it, overpowers everything else. And when baking, a teaspoon of salt (or less) is the key to bringing out all the sweetness of the pastry or baked good.

And what about even less than a teaspoon of life? In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a book I find myself mentioning A LOT on this blog, Oskar is a huge Stephen Hawking fan. In the midst of reading A Brief History of Time, he finds himself feeling highly insignificant in comparison to the enormity of the universe and all of time. He approaches his father later that night with his concerns:
"When Dad was tucking me in that night and we were talking about the book, I asked if he could think of a solution to that problem. "Which problem?" "The problem of how relatively insignificant we are." He said, "Well, what would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand with tweezers and moved it one millimeter?" I said, "I'd probably die of dehydration." He said, "I just mean right then, when you moved that single grain of sand. What would that mean?" I said, "I dunno, what?" He said, "Think about it." I thought about it. "I guess I would have moved a single grain of sand." "Which would mean?" "Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?" "Which would mean you changed the Sahara." "So?" "So? So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for millions of years. And you changed it!" "That's true!"I said, sitting up. "I changed the Sahara!" "Which means?" he said. "What? Tell me." "Well, I'm not talking about painting the Mona Lisa or curing cancer. I'm just talking about moving that one grain of sand one millimeter." "Yeah?" "If you hadn't done it, human history would have been one way..." "Uh-huh?" "But you did do it, so...?" I stood on the bed, pointed my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: "I changed the course of human history!" "That's right." "I changed the universe!" "You did." "I'm God!" "You're an atheist." "I don't exist!" I fell back onto the bed, into his arms, and we cracked up together. (p. 86)
In this case, all it takes is a grain. One grain and the universe is changed. Isn't that encouraging? Isn't that exhilarating and buoying and reassuring? Perhaps all we need is one grain of life. We think too hard about having too much. We think we can't do something now because we aren't experienced or progressed enough. But we can. We just need one grain. We can all make a difference with very little. And if we all put our little grains together, just think about the huge pile we would create.

Perhaps I will go and share that teaspoon of life with the ones I love. It is more than enough.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

editorial mistakes

Check this out:

Vanilla Ice Cream Review

Scroll down to nutritionist Marissa Lippert's picks... Her second choice is all about the flavor... apparently, not a flavor I EVER want to try. Tuna is not bad, but in ice cream??? I got a real kick out of this mistake. Hope you do too! :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

say what you mean

Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O sea! And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.   (Lord Alfred Tennyson)

Thoughts arise and flow through the mind like ticker tape: coursing smoothly and quickly, creating abbreviations and personal shorthand, moving seamlessly and logically... until they reach our mouths. The articulation of those lucid thoughts is hard, if not sometimes impossible. What seems to gather in our heads in words actually form through firing synapses and traveling neurons. It probably looks more like a Civil War battle or a fireworks display in our heads when we think than an MIT physics chalkboard.

Why is it so hard to say what we mean to say? What we want to say? I can explain things fairly well when I write them down... but when I try and speak them, it's a lot more difficult unless I prepare. I especially have trouble recreating someone else's argument, even those which I have understood in the first place. But for some people, this process seems a lot easier than for others. I remember being in my high school Economics and History classes with a bunch of precocious boys who always seemed to understand every micro- and macroeconomic theory and be able to relate all historical events to current events I didn't even know were taking place. It was incredibly intimidating. In hindsight, though, I am not so sure their ability to articulate was so much better than mine. First, I think they just talked and talked until they basically drove over a body of knowledge or an understanding that was valuable. Second, I think that by talking their articulation moved towards lucidity. Some people work this way. Some people need to talk things out in order to think about them. Others, like me, need to process silently, internally, and perhaps write things down before articulating them well.

But it is still hard to say what we mean. Language often seems such a poor communication tool. This is most evidently the case when we try to express emotions. Again, this is something that seems to come more naturally to some and to be excruciatingly difficult for others. Why is this? Does it have to do with one's upbringing? Is it a quirk of the brain -- that those who are less skilled in logical articulation are more 'emotionally endowed'? Is it gender-related? Is it cultural?

In his article titled, "Romantic Love and Loving Commitment: Articulating a Modern Ideal" (American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4, Oct. 1996), Neil Delaney explains how we want our partners to love us for particular properties that we consider essential to who we are:
This is the most plausible construal of the commonplace expression, "I want my lover to love me for the right reasons." Similarly, when someone issues a complaint like "he only loves me for my body," this is best interpreted as that person's observation that her lover's love is focused on properties that she herself regards as peripheral.
What strikes me is that there is a lot of wishing and wanting and hoping going on in this article, but not very much expression of those desires. Delaney says as much later in the article:
Consider the following case: A identifies profoundly with his career as a painter, taking painting to be an intrinsically valuable activity. His partner, while loving A in good part because he is a painter, takes the painting to provide a basis for loving A not because it is an intrinsically valuable activity, but rather because it assures entrance to lots of flashy cocktail parties. In this case it appears that, while A may properly take himself to be loved "for the right sort of reason," nevertheless this perceived basis for the love may leave him unsatisfied. If this is right, we need to more precisely articulate the desire to be loved for properties you take to be central to your self-conception. A better approximation would be to speak of a desire to be loved for such properties where these properties are appreciated in a way not too different from the way you appreciate them.
Part of the problem seems to be that, within the context of the creation of a 'we', we desire much to 'just be understood' as if our partner is so close to us that we have established ESP. We ask too much of each other just as we often ask too much of love per se. Delaney again:
Here's an apparent inconsistency among people's wants with regard to romantic love: while on the one hand you seem to want to be loved unconditionally, at the same time you want your loved to be discerning. This is to say that the value you attach to the love received in romantic relationships relies upon your taking your lover to have some taste, which is just to take your lover to be the sort of person who wouldn't love a schmuck... Let me make the tension more explicit: while you seem to want it to be true that, were you to become a schmuck, your lover would continue to love you, as would be the case if the love really was unconditional, you also want it to be the case that your lover would never love a schmuck.
It's funny because this is exactly the point my boyfriend was making to me the other day when he asked if I would love him if he went bald. Of course, I replied enthusiastically, thinking that this was the 'right' answer. But you just said I wouldn't look as good if I shaved my head, he responded puzzled. While not quite the same as 'becoming a schmuck,' his point was that I was being inconsistent... and that he didn't truly want me to love him whatever he became because that made me a sort of 'love floozy'. We want to be loved unconditionally and yet we want to be worthy of our lover's love. Does this dilemma add to the difficulty of articulating what we mean to say and what we feel? Who wants to articulate a self-contradiction?

I think there is more to the difficulty of expressing emotions. Sometimes people are not raised to be in touch with their emotions. Unfortunately, this happens a lot to boys in our culture. A book such as Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys addresses the 'tyranny of toughness' that boys face and how masculinity has been so narrowly defined as to be suffocating. But there is still a greater problem. The problem of language itself.
For the inarticulate can find its forms of articulation only within the already articulated, within, in other words, a language which is itself a sociohistorical construct, or, as Dale Spender puts it, a "language trap". "For we are language Lost / in language"... (Ming-Qian Ma, "Articulating the Inarticulate," Contemporary Literature, Vol. 36, No. 3, Autumn, 1995)
Ma recounts Don Byrd's position that we, as Westerners, put too much stock in language as "an independent subjective structure that describes all ontological possibilities." Perhaps this is why I love writing poetry. Poetry tiptoes around the tropes of language and rejoices in the unexpected combinations of words, syntax, vocabulary, and phrasing that actually enable us to understand anew... and perhaps articulate more clearly.

Despite the difficulties in saying what you mean, it is always worth trying. Trying without frustration when the other party struggles to understand. Trying because trying is like watering the plant of love. Without trying to articulate what we mean, the love will wither... and maybe even die. Sometimes it's about letting go... letting go of anger, the presumption of honor, pride... letting go of all those 'properties of you' that you want the other person to appreciate. They might just appreciate them more... appreciate you more... if you can say what you mean... or as John Mayer puts it 'what you need to say.'
Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar.
It's always necessary.
I love you,

- Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, p. 314

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

65 things to wonder about

1. I wonder why certain people really hate using their blinkers.

2. I wonder how to get from here to there.

3. I wonder why intercourse is a word for sex rather than something related to dining or driving. "Last night, the waiter served us the most amazing heirloom tomato salad for an intercourse."

4. I wonder whether I will get to read all of the books I want to read in my lifetime.

5. I wonder why we waste so much time when there is really so little time at all.

6. I wonder if governments will start monitoring our texts and tweets... "London Riots 2011: Protesters Use BlackBerry Messenger; Hackers Back Them"

7. I wonder what the percentage of technological advances used for "bad" purposes is.

8. I wonder how many terrible things that are brewing 'beneath the surface' will erupt into violence and disorder.

9. I wonder how much of life is motivated by inequalities of power.

10. I wonder what I will be when I grow up.

11. I wonder if I will ever "grow up."

12. I wonder if "growing up" completely is a good thing.

13. I wonder why Martha didn't create a more clever catchphrase than "it's a good thing."

14. I wonder why we deride the missteps of some (Amy Winehouse and Richard Hatch... remember him?), but forgive those of others (Martha Stewart and Kobe Bryant.)

15. I wonder how many people can actually truly and completely forgive.

16. I wonder which is better for the recipient... forgiveness or empathy.

17. I wonder why people say, "I can forgive you but I can never forget..." Of course you can't forget! Obviously, if it was something bad enough to require forgiveness, it must have hurt like hell.

18. I wonder why emotional pain is so physical.

19. I wonder why what made me so sad about the renovation of The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, NH was that they would probably get rid of the clinking radiators that used to put me to sleep when we stayed there.

20. I wonder why 'improving' things can be so upsetting to us.

21. I wonder why I've learned to love certain foods I hated as a child (tomatoes, eggs, salmon), but others still disgust me (peas, beets.)

22. I wonder what a miracle would really look like.

23. I wonder when the economy will improve.

24. I wonder when (or if) we will have another boom period like the 80s.

25. I wonder why standing on your head is so fun as a child and so frightening as an adult.

26. I wonder if I will ever be able to remember the name of that apple donut-type thing I used to eat at a bakery in Martha's Vineyard.

27. Oh wait! I think it's an apple fritter. Now if I could only remember where we got them...

28. I wonder why the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette hit me so hard.

29. I wonder why it's so hard to turn my brain off at night when all I want to do is sleep.

30. I wonder when bacon and chocolate became friends.

31. I wonder how it will all turn out.

32. I wonder why I love swimming but am terrified of open water.

33. I wonder why all pools don't use a saline purification system instead of chlorine and other toxic chemicals.

34. I wonder how many toxic chemicals we ingest daily without any knowledge.

35. I wonder why people at the gym have to spray that super strength disinfectant all over everyone around them rather than just on the machine.

36. I wonder why some people think gyms are social places.

37. I wonder how many long-term couples meet at gyms. ;-)

38. I wonder how many people can act truly selflessly.

39. I wonder if people who say "I promise I will change" can ever really change.

40. I wonder why people have to keep remaking films that were good in the first place -- Rear Window, Dirty Dancing, Psycho, Charade)

41. I wonder if we all think we can do it better than the other guy.

42. I wonder why people smoke.

43. I wonder why people hate.

44. I wonder why people spend so much of their lives angry.

45. I wonder how much of the "self" corresponds to the body.

46. I wonder why women ever try to put on lipstick while driving.

47. I wonder why people think there is a secret to happiness.

48. I wonder why happiness can be so hard and so fleeting.

49. I wonder what school will be like in 40 years.

50. I wonder what I will be like in 40 years.

51. I wonder why true love makes it hard to breathe.

52. I wonder how many married couples are really deeply in love with each other.

53. I wonder why people bother to get married if they don't feel that strongly.

54. I wonder what it will take to get my blog noticed.

55. I wonder how many alternate worlds I can imagine.

56. I wonder if they would actually be better places to live.

57. I wonder when I will get back to Venice.

58. I wonder why watching birds visit my feeder is so gratifying, so calming, so reassuring, so absorbing.

59. I wonder what happens to dreams we used to have.

60. I wonder why everyone doesn't believe in the possible.

61. I wonder what happens to all the feelings and thoughts of people who die.

62. I wonder why kids seem to have much better questions than adults.

63. I wonder why I wonder if I can when I know that I can.

64. I wonder how much doubt impedes our lives.

65. I wonder why everyone doesn't take the time to sit and wonder.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

umbra out of the shadows

I love words. Not surprising, seeing as I am a writer. Sometimes I write quickly and add page upon page. Other times, I spend minutes, hours, lingering and laboring over a single word. Which subtle difference of meaning is best in this case? Which word adds to the rhythm, enhances the atmosphere, vibrates with the tone?

But when does a single word get to be in the spotlight, so to speak? Almost never. For tomorrow, take a word... and ponder its origins, its shades of meaning, its various definitions, its sound, its commonality or uniqueness.

For me, the word I chose is umbrage.

Most commonly, the word umbrage is used when someone takes offense at something. "New Hampshire hospitals take umbrage over cuts by legislature" reads a headline. Actually, I probably wouldn't use the word this way as the implication should be that one takes an offense over a social snub or something rude rather than a perceived injustice (as in this case.)

We have deviated from the original meaning of the word. Less common definitions of umbrage include the shade from foliage and finally a shadowy appearance. In 15th century France, umbrage was just this sort of shade beneath the trees... no negative connotation to the word at all. In his 1426 translation of De Guileville's Pilgrimage of the life of man, John Lydgate wrote:
... my vysage whiche is clowded with vmbrage...
And although we now only 'take' umbrage, it used to be given. Translating the Historie of the council of Trent, Sir Nathaniel Brent recorded in 1620:
He... therefore besought them to take away all those words that might give him any vmbrage.
Slowly, this notion of being in the shadows and feeling displeasure became intertwined. J. K. Rowling cleverly referenced this shadowy aversion in naming a character Professor Umbridge.

Yet, why did shade become a negative? Darkness makes sense, but the shade from trees is often a respite from heat and blazing sun. With a sense of this grandeur and protection, Milton wrote:
Where highest woods, impenetrable
To star or sunlight, spread their umbrage broad.
The root of the word, umbrage, is umbra... and this word has an important astronomical meaning. An umbra is a complete shadow, when the source of light is totally cut off... as in an eclipse. Check out Nick Strobel's cool explanation (and movies) of umbras and penumbras.

Here is a helpful diagram of a lunar eclipse with the umbra and penumbra labeled. By the way, a penumbra is the partial imperfect shadow outside of the complete shadow (the umbra.)

The umbra can also be the constant companion of someone or something... as in your shadow. In "Peter Pan," the lead character has a lot of trouble with his shadow. He loses it, just as he symbolically has no past. If, in a simple way, light represent happiness and knowledge and dark represents fear and ignorance, it is only with one set against the other that the totality can be understood. In simple terms, one can't understand happiness without sadness. And as children grow, the completeness of their experience becomes more like that in which there is a light source which throws their shadow into the scene. Wendy, who lives in a more adult and complete world, knows how to reattach Peter's shadow. Also, some kind soul took the time to remake his shadow....

For Peter, the reattachment of his shadow leads to the resumption of his total arrogance: "Oh, the cleverness of me!" and his singing of "I've gotta crow!" Here is the Mary Martin original version. Perhaps Peter's arrogance has to do with Patricia Cox Miller's implications in her book, Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture:
The umbra -- shade, shadow, uninvited guest -- is invited in; as a dream, the guest becomes host to a sensuous pleasure that is all the more real for being an imitation, and all the more an artifice for being imaginal, "only" a dream.
Peter lives in a "dream world," a world of pure fantasy wherein all guests become part of his pleasureful imagination. Even Hook is a "fun" adversary for Peter. What is scary is "growing up" and the inevitable reality that comes with it -- the shadow that stays forever attached and is only, as Wendy points out "just a shadow."

Part of the strangeness of words is connotation. The innate sense we develop that a word is negative or positive. Umbra clearly has attained negative status. Yet, in many ways, it could present us with a completeness, a sense of fantasy, a playful imaginative state, or a relief from physical discomfort. I think today, as the rain pours down outside, I will revel in the umbrage that this ponderous weather enables.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

have third thoughts

Second thoughts. We all have them. That bungee jump seemed like an incredibly good idea when we were sitting in our friend's living room, but now, standing on the edge of a huge cliff with only a bouncy rope to catch us... we begin to question our initial enthusiasm.

These uninvited thoughts can arrive when dealing with bigger things too... like having a child. In her July 31, 2011 blog entry on Anthropologa, the author writes: "I know it's only a few more days until this pregnancy is full-term, but, um... I'm not so sure this whole 'having a baby' thing was such a good idea." Turns out it was more fear than a real desire to reverse this irreversible decision.

Why second thoughts? It seems they so often emanate from places of fear. Well-thought out decisions are questioned irrationally in moments of panic. Brides or grooms get 'cold feet' when they have doubts about committing to that one person for the rest of their lives. Why cold feet? Apparently, this phrase has its origins in a Stephen Crane novel and was also used extensive in 'the Great War' when soldiers whose feet were handicapped by frost-bite could not proceed in battle. The term extended to cover all those men who feared entering combat. What I find interesting about the term is the physicality of it. Are second thoughts, then, more related to a gut reaction, to something we feel in our bones, whereas the initial decision may have been sited in our heads?

If you consider the two situations posed above (the bungee jump and the baby), they seem to suggest two different things about second thoughts. In the first case, second thoughts might be a good thing. A quick, perhaps peer-pressured decision is reevaluated. On the other hand, having doubts about the baby is both panicky and irreversible. Most people (I stress most) plan to have babies -- at least it's usually outlined in a couple's life plan. Thus, there is not a need for reevaluation so much as there is a need to face -- head-on (and quickly!!) -- concerns and apprehension about what the reality of a child will entail.

The brain is a funny thing. It seems as though we should be able to trust our thoughts, but so often that is not actually a good idea. These thoughts are OUR thoughts... they are not objective, nor always realistic. Often, people can so manipulate their own thoughts or perceptions so that they believe themselves to be something they so obviously are not. Look at Bernie Madoff or O. J. Simpson. So, are second thoughts more trustworthy? Or is it the process of rethinking that is the most dependable of all?

In that case, I would argue for third thoughts... and fourth and fifth... not to the point of indecisiveness, but rather as a continual process of self reevaluation, of reconsidering what you thought you knew, of thinking from new angles... basically of learning and growing. Second thoughts are also a hint, a nudge from your unconscious that you may not have all the answers. In that case, they may warrant a discussion with other people in order to see the situation through other eyes. Certainly good things CAN come out of second thoughts. Handel revised his Messiah because of second thoughts. A bomb was not dropped. A hurtful phrase went unsaid. Heidi Montag wouldn't have had all that plastic surgery. Certainly, I am going against the grain here to disagree with Malcolm Gladwell that the best decisions can usually be made in a "blink" and on instinct. I just don't see that to be the case.

In a broader sense, second thoughts as a people enable us to reconsider scientific, economic, or historical problems that appeared to have been resolved but were mistaken. We once thought the world was flat being one of the most obvious examples.

And have second thoughts proliferated as we become more disconnected from ourselves? The sociologist Robert Nisbet suggests in his book, The Quest for Community, that "it has become steadily clearer to me that alienation is one of the determining realities of the contemporary age. It will not do to relegate it to the realm of symbols which influence intellectuals and which do not, at first thought, seem to implicate the lives of others in society." As we are more alienated from each other, we are equally more estranged from ourselves. If this is the case, then our process of rethinking may be a process of reconnection to what we should have considered in the first place... but were too distracted or withdrawn to recognize.

Of course we will always have second thoughts. Decisions have to do with the future... and thus with the prediction of what our future selves will look like... and those are constantly changing. When we decide something, we are basing that decision on an anticipation of what our future self will look like. And, as we all know, that can change. Perhaps what is reassuring (rather than destabilizing) about second thoughts is that they are an assertion of our human autonomy. In her article, "Second Thoughts: Revoking Decisions Over One's Own Future" (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. LIV, No. 4, December 1994), Jennifer Radden addresses just this notion:
A central expression of autonomy is found in our ability to make a plan for ourselves and adhere to it. Emphasizing this view, Joel Feinberg argues that when a voluntary commitment is made, freely, on the basis of principles, and with alertness to the possible consequences which might ensue, it should be honored. He quotes with approval from Arneson, "The root idea of autonomy is that in making a voluntary choice a person takes on responsibility for all the foreseeable consequences to himself that flow from this voluntary choice" (p. 86). Others have put the point even more strongly. Full freedom, claims Schelling (p. 98) "entails" the freedom to bind oneself, to incur obligation, to reduce one's range of choice. In order that I be AS FREE AS POSSIBLE, Charles Fried insists, it is necessary that there be a way in which I may commit myself by making non-optional courses of conduct which would otherwise be optional for me.
I do not mean to take issue with the claim that the freedom to bind oneself is at the heart of our notion of autonomy: it seems incontrovertably true. However this aspect of autonomy is matched by another 'root idea', and another capability entailed in the notion of full freedom. A different expression of autonomy which is equally central, I would argue, is found in our ability to change our minds in the light of new ideas, beliefs, and desires. Failure to acknowledge this second expression of autonomy, and overemphasis on the first, has misled some thinkers, of whom Feinberg stands as a distinguished example, when they examine the moral status of advance directives, that is, of decisions we make designed to bind ourselves at some future time. More precisely, it is because of a failure to acknowledge the second root idea (our ability to change our minds), and its conflict with the first (our ability to plan ahead and take responsibility for the outcomes of our decisions), that Feinberg concludes advance directives should be morally binding and should be appropriately honored.
So, for tomorrow, acknowledge your ability to change your mind, your ability to see anew, the reality that you change at every moment and so the decision you initially made for yourself might not be right. Trust yourself, yes, but also allow room for the thoughts in your head... the ones that emanate not from a place of fear but from a place of growth.