I like to tell myself that I’m a rational person. In feedback on an upcoming publication, I was called a “neo-liberal.” I wasn’t sure how to take that, but the implication was that I was too rational for my own good.
I admit I lean heavily on logic and identify in many ways with the logical positivity of Wittgenstein. I am also influenced by logicians such as Charles Sanders Peirce. The need for logical consistency and rational thinking runs deep in my psyche.
Or so I thought.
No matter how much I want to be seen as rational and even belabor others for their irrationality, I cannot escape the fact that many of the decisions I’ve made as an adult are not, by definition, rational.
For example, I have two internationally adopted children. I would question the rationality of flying across the globe to countries where it takes you two hours to find someone who speaks enough English so you can buy lunch. Bringing children into your home that you know very little of their genetic history is a grab-bag of possibilities.
Also, I have continued to train in martial arts against the recommendation of my orthopedist. He said I should seriously consider giving up martial arts due to the deteriorating condition of my lower back and joints. It is probably not the most rational thing I could do to continue getting on the mat.
Lastly, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. which I start in the Fall. That is one of the least rational decisions a person could make by most standards. You generally spend all of your time and money chasing a piece of paper, only to find that you make less money and have less time on the other side of it (or other horror stories associated with getting a doctorate).
Regardless of what my rational brain thinks, there is a certain level of risk associated with growth, change, and ultimately fulfillment in life. The search for meaning isn’t supposed to be rational. As writers such as Camus and Kafka have pointed out, it can often be absurd.
I’ve recently realized that, while I try to see things through rational lenses, I find some of my greatest joys in irrational and even risky things.
My question to you is, what is keeping you from growing into someone better? What is stopping you from changing your life? The cost? Money comes and goes. The time? It flies away and never comes back.
Sometimes, the change we need in our lives lies in the irrational, the momentary, the attempt. Try something new, unexpected, and crazy (just not drugs). You may find it a catalyst to a whole new life, the life you always wanted to live.
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2 thoughts on “Rationality is overrated.”
What prevents you from switching over and teaching Tai Chi instead? If you’re going to make a break from rash behavior, nothing like the virtue of gentleness to moderate the transition.
I tried Tai Chi about 10 years ago when I had major shoulder surgery. I thought I was going to have to retire from martial arts back then. I’ve had 2 knee surgeries, and back surgery since that time. I realized while trying Tai Chi that I am a wrestler at heart and I couldn’t find it in me to give up then. I’ve still been able to find a way to continue training in what I love. I don’t compete anymore, but I still teach 4 nights a week. I have taken to Yoga though, as I find it therapeutic for my joints.