Scaling Hypotheses


I am a great lover of hypothetical questions. To my mind, they are the most efficient method of getting a person to write you a very brief and personally grounded bit of fiction. Maybe this, too, is why many people avoid hypothetical questions -- they're all-too aware of how revealing their answers may be. I think these sorts of questions are a little too entertaining to be concerned for my own exposure, though. Over the years I've tried to disguise my hypothetical questions in forms people won't find too fanciful or threatening. Instead of asking, "If you were trapped on a desert island with a CD player and only five albums, which would they be?", I go for, "Top five albums?" Even then, many balk. "You're allowed to change your mind," I insist. Still, nuthin'. Some favorites of mine:
  • Would you rather be able to fly, or become invisible at will?

  • If you had to pick one musical artist or band to compose a running soundtrack behind your every moment, who would it be?

  • What would you do if you knew you had three weeks to live?

I thought of a new one the other day, and a series of events seemed to conspire to bring me back to my answer to it, over and over. I had the answer before I had the question, to be completely honest. The answer: Climb. The eventual question:

  • If you could only do three things for the rest of your life, which three voluntary actions -- besides sleeping, eating and sex -- would you choose?

So when I put it to myself that way, I came up with to climb, act and write. I took some time with it, because I figured that given more options I might come around to see that to climb was not my life's greatest ambition. And it's true. I don't aspire to climb, particularly. What it is about the act of climbing that puts it at number one is that it makes me the happiest out of these three things I love to do. This is very interesting to me. I notice that I am not a professional rock climber, nor a telephone-pole repairman, nor even a stuntman, per se. I could make some practical assertions as to why not, but all of these would crumble once applied to my chosen aspiration of maintaining a legitimate acting career.

I'm not sure I can explain what it is about climbing -- simply climbing -- that is so satisfying to me. It seems like such a simple action, yet it always cheers me up somehow, to the extent that if I had to give up acting or climbing, I really don't know which one I'd choose. (So please: Nobody ask me that one.) Writing's third because I love it, but it's solitary, and acting's second because it comes with some really nauseating lows right along with the dizzying highs. But climbing, it's very pure, and uplifting (see what I did there) and heck: I just don't know. I fantasize about getting a grant to do performance art for which I climb various public sculptures, turning major American cities into playgrounds. From what I've heard, I've always been this way. One of the earliest stories of me that my parents have involves climbing to the top of an nine-foot-tall metal giraffe. This same story also highlights a rather strange accompanying fear: of heights.

I don't know what this says about me, and I don't particularly care. I get a greater sense of reward out of definitively identifying a little joy for myself than I do out of plumbing its roots and motivations. So I instead put it to you, Dear Reader:

  • If you could only do three things for the rest of your life, which three voluntary actions would you choose?
Remember: Fun, not Freud.
 
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