Recap: I’m done with grad school (yay!). I’m freelancing in NYC. I plan to move home to Oslo in December. Then I hear about this great job opportunity. In another US city. Where I know no one. There’s a dilemma here. I’ll try to write myself out of it using this old Radiolab episode called Help! that I just listened to. The first 20 minutes are about our willpower and the battle: You vs. You. Two different stories are told.
FLIP A COIN
This story is about two brothers who are recent graduates and don’t really know what they want to do with their lives (yup, sounds familiar). Then their father tells them that one of them needs to take over the family business â€“ a massage studio in Chinatown (not that familiar). The brothers really don’t want to take over, but decide to flip a coin over it. Or actually they do some tea leaf reading, but the result is the same. One brother wins, the other starts working for his dad. He’s miserable. He doesn’t particularly like touching feet. He tells a customer:
I flipped a coin, and now my life is over
After having worked there for a month, however, something changes. He starts to enjoy it. He longs for his work when he has a day off. He loves working with people every day. He simply loves his job!
The brother who won the tea leaf battle says that if he had lost, he would never actually take over as a masseuse. He just thought his brother needed a little push, and agreed to read tea leaves to help give his brother the sign he needed. How the tea leaves could help point in the right direction is beyond me. Either way, one brother found his calling, and the family business will live on.
Now the other story is about quitting smoking, and how to trick your brain into doing something that you don’t really want to do. Even though you know that quitting will be good for your health and those around you in the long run, the pleasure of having a cigarette right now just wins.
Things that are offered right now are so much more powerful than what’s offered later. It’s a battle about NOW and LATER, a battle about time.
The woman in this story finally quit smoking after telling her friend that she had to help her donate a big sum of money to the Ku Klux Klan if she ever smoked again. The battle between feeling good with a cigarette right now vs. feeling happy and healthy in the long run had been changed. It was now the balance between how horrible she’d feel for donating to a cause strongly against her personal believes vs. how good she’d feel about the cigarette. It was a NOW vs NOW battle. The KKK horror made her quit smoking forever.
ME VS. ME
So with those two stories in mind, my question to me is:
Should I flip a coin, or simply quit smoking?
In other words: is what I need a little push to take a great job in an unfamiliar city? Or is the US my cigarettes? As long as I am in the US, I will keep running into awesome opportunities. Opportunities in the NOW that I shouldn’t say no to. Unfortunately, the opportunities of the intangible LATER in Norway are hard to predict, as long as I am here in the American NOW.
If I quit my cigarettes now, I might feel better in the long run in my home country, surrounded by family and friends in the city I truly love. Speaking the language I master. Where I can be the ‘me’ I know best. And where I don’t have these visa expiration dates to deal with, cause I actually belong there. Though if I quit my cigarettes – and actually should have been flipping a coin – will Oslo become my big, fat anticlimax?
I am not sure yet whether this is a coin flipping or cigarette quitting situation. And I definitely do not know where the Ku Klux Klan comes into the equation. Though I do know that the end of my New York City adventure will be this December â€“ and after 2.5 years here I don’t seem to have a problem letting go of that particular cigarette brand.
Cigarette photo by Raul Lieberwirth. Cause I do not actually smoke. Phew.