Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pascal's Gambol

Bar conversation topics last night at the Cornelia Street Café:

Is every New York politician cheating on his wife? No wonder I have no sex life –- I’m not an elected official. To which the immediate response is “Well, Matthew, that’s ONE reason . . .”

Going to bed with someone is far less intimate than sleeping through the night with them, or even in some cases kissing them.

When a woman leaves on her own after a sexual encounter without even bothering to ask to stay for the night, most guys get so weirded out, they pull the emotional equivalent of "You can't quit--I have to fire you!"

When you give money to a homeless person, even if that person is trying to scam it off you, the fact that you're doing something generous adds a coin to the positive side of the world's scales; it's the intention behind the act which counts, no matter what happens after. We're here to add to the positive, in any way we can. Especially when we’re faced with potential tragedy and loss.

This is where I came up with the idea of Pascal's Gambol, which is the secular version of Pascal's Wager. I didn’t actually say this out loud last night. (Definition of a pulled muscle: Matthew holding himself back from throwing the words "Pascal's wager" into a casual bar conversation.)

Pascal's Wager basically says that we might as well believe in God because it's the gambling equivalent of putting money down on a number that has a chance of winning, as opposed to putting it down on a number which has no chance of winning at all. Pascal's Gambol (thank you, Ester, for the pun) says that we might as well be positive and upbeat, because thinking about or expecting the negative is like grabbing onto an anchor to stop yourself from sinking.

Expect the positive. Strive for lightness. Lightness like grabbing onto a cloud. And you will discover that you have wings.

“Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does.” -- Epictetus

"We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine." -- H.L. Mencken

"Nothing puts complaining about your problems in perspective better than someone with bigger problems who is not complaining about them." -- Barking Matthew

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