Choice: When 1 is Greater Than Ninety-Nine.
How is your Math? do you count with your fingers or is it easier for you to do subtractions in the air? Personally, I stare at the ceiling, in silence, when I calculate. If it turns out to be too complex then my hands get involved. On those many days when I’m just lazy I respectfully grab a calculator as I think “surely I could have done this myself.”
Addition and subtraction is important to our everyday life. Addition and subtraction, one could say, is almost spiritual. We add up a lot of reasons for our existence and subtract a lot of reasons why we should not leave the comfort of our warm bed.
What if we talked about a simple math today? If I asked you which is greater, one or ninety nine, what would your answer be? Is 1>99 or is 99>1? It’s not a trick question, then again, maybe all my questions are trick questions.
For me, first, there’s the “obvious” answer. Being a good student I think of how my teacher would want me to answer. Then there is the “grown up — I have bills to pay” answer. I think of how society has trained me with endless bills. If I’m to choose to either receive $99 or $1, that is an easy conundrum. But what if there’s a third, not so obvious, not so logical, not so grown up answer? Would you be interested to learn that with me? Awesome, let’s eat.
I had a thought yesterday, don’t fret. I had many thoughts yesterday but amongst those many thoughts, I had an original thought yesterday.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Adam, Eve, Garden of Eden. That beginning. Are you here with me? Awesome. As we walk around the garden, we are reminded of the rule of engagement. Very simple rule of engagement. Those in the garden, that is Adam and Eve, are to partake of the fruits in the garden, they are to engage with the trees in the garden, except one. Simple enough. One could say they had 99 to enjoy but 1 to stay away from.
Hold that thought, now I’m reminded of the parable of the Shepherd who lost the one sheep, he leaves 99 sheep to go search for one. For him, one could say 1 was > than 99. And, that is some math.
Similarly, as you’re very well aware, Adam and Eve forgoes the rest of the garden just to satisfy themselves with the one tree that goes against the rule of engagement. For them it could be said the allure of 1 was greater than the satisfaction of 99. Think about it, would you ruin 99 for 1?
Alright, I’ll put my preacher robe away, Sunday class is over. Back to my original thought, here’s what I understood yesterday.
In the life of most people, there is that one thing they mostly yearn for, it could be something good, something horrific, something out of this world, something shameful, something lustful, something miraculous, something outstanding — for me and for you also, there is that one thing that is out of grasp.
Many ordinary humans, like you and I, enjoy the 99 different things as they endure the lack of that one thing. Actually, it would be appropriate to say some very few lucky people enjoy the 99, because really its more like people enjoy 20 and long for 80. Or 60, 40. Those who really have something good going might have 90 things they enjoy but hope for 10 different things. Then there’s people like me, no pride, still humble, people like me who do have 99 and lack the 1. Yes, life is literally good for me but what is this itch and delusion that “life can be better?” — this is the itch of the one. The missing, eluding one. Again I ask you — Think about it, would you ruin 99 for 1?
For some they lack someone to love, for others they have love but lack health, some have health lack money, some rich but lack health, some rich, have love but lack fertility so they spend majority of their wealth to get fertile. It goes on and on. Rich people problems are problems too. Lonely people problems are problems too. Sick people problems are problems too. Hungry people problems are problems too. Then there are those who have all of the above but have a horrific public image, have a table of backstabbing friends.
We are proud you know, humans that is. We are a proud bunch. Somehow, somewhere in our mechanism we believe we deserve to have it all, we think we should not be satisfied until we conquer that which eludes us whether its good for us or not is rarely the point, just the reality of conquering that one thing is enough for us. The desire can be so strong it envelops you, that is all you think about morning and night. How to take the skirt off that new temp worker at your job, saying to hell with your household, your vows, your future and whatever else is going good for you.
This is where J. Peterson would say paraphrasing. .bury the idea before it buries you. And it can indeed put you in the grave if you don’t suffocate the idea — to burn it all.
Before you laugh, I should share with you I have numerous stories of people I once knew who did in fact lose their job because of the new skirt in the office. And, I don’t mean entry level workers, I mean people in high positions. Right now, I’m thinking of one of them who spent over 8 years building his career, climbing corporal ladder finally reaching a decent leadership level, only for someone else to go to HR about dude and a shorty at the job. And, just like that the air in his balloon hisses away.
Give it 3–6 mos and there goes another person benching a shorty at the job and I throw my hands in the air, “take her to your house or a freaking hotel, but to be caught in the act, going at it inside the work building, really?” that’s how you know the itch to severely burn the 99 for the desire of 1 was incredibly strong. Then there’s the one who lost his house to his wife because he was caught with his pants down, you guessed it with a girl from his job, it’s almost unbelievable. It’s outstanding how so many people I’ve once known lost their job for tapping lemons. Boy, we got off track there.
We have the precedence that many humans would sacrifice 99 for the one. I don’t find that incredibly genius. And if you’re like me then I can assume we’d both rather have the 99 and let go of the one. You would not believe how many times I’ve had people advice me to the best of their knowledge to go after something or someone, mostly someone, that equates burning the 99 for the 1. And sometimes it seems like a very good idea, for nothing quenches the thirst of a thirsty man like water. But, hey, sometimes I’m smart enough to know juice, rain even ice can do the trick too.
It gets tricky though, I would think it depends on what exactly this one thing is — sometimes we lose sight of all we have because all we have, we think, lacks in comparison with the one thing we really want. But what if that one thing isn’t for us to have? Would we then stop or curse the 99 that we could enjoy?
Think of Adam, think of Eve. They could just stare at each other all day, or ask God to give them purpose. But instead of doing nothing, they considered all the good in their world insignificant to that which they can not have. That’s the power of market monopoly plus demand multiplied by scarcity. And, that’s some serious math.
Even better, what if that one thing isn’t for us to have yet, would we then stop or curse the 99 that we can enjoy right now? We know Adam and Eve were not to partake of the fruit of good and evil but we know not why they were not to partake. What if there was a yet. A yet that was not disclosed. What if they had to first understand how fortunate they were, understand what good actually is, before muddling the water with knowledge of evil? What if the reason they could not partake of the one was because they were not ready, or maybe because they haven’t properly become one with the 99. What if you have to show worthy ownership of the 99 in order to be ready for the one?
There is no general answer, there is no constant answer, there is probably no constantly right answer. The success stories that reaches the masses are of those people who sacrificed it all to try again but this time they made huge success. Those who sacrificed it all, became homeless and died homeless, we don’t hear their story because their story is too saddening to sell newspapers. The act of sacrificing 99 for 1 then becomes romanticized.
I would not be naive, not right now anyways. I do know sometimes it’s necessary to upend your world just to get that which you really want. All I’m saying is most times it’s unwise to spend a dollar to get a penny.
I face the mirror this morning, to honestly review my life because I have 99 things to enjoy and yes, some days I don’t even think of the missing one, but then there are other days where I don’t even see the 99 and think walking away from the 99 for the 1 might not be such a horrific idea — it is a horrific idea.
This might not be your cup of tea, you might in fact have a 100, or maybe you have 80 and don’t care nothing for the 20. Either way, good on you. In this moment, I do see my 99 and I celebrate my 99. The missing one, I don’t really want if it’s not for me or not what God wants for me (yet). But this moment would pass and that’s why I’m writing this, because when the next moment and the moment after that arrives where I’m scratching to burn the 99 for the sake of the one hopefully life brings me to read this and understand that because you could doesn’t mean you should.
Find comfort in knowing that no one has it all. So when you do accomplish that one thing that you really want right now, soon thereafter you will realize another one thing or 99 things that you really want also. It’s a continuous loop. Our desire machine does not end, however the power and control it has over our life does adjust. And with good diligence it can adjust downwards and more quiet, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the immediate 99.
Before you abandon a world, before you overturn your world, before you shake up your existence — think of Adam, think of Eve. Think of the Shepherd. Think of Samson. Think of Solomon. Think of David —the wife of another was one factor that was unknowingly worth more to him than the 99 blessings he already had, including his life.
Think about it, would you ruin 99 for 1? Is 1 indeed > 99 or is 99 >1?
Thanks for walking with me and here I bid you a good life.
Make good decisions.