Impossible Choices

“Do the right thing” you were taught as a child, and strive to do so as an adult. But what they didn’t teach you as a child is about impossible choices. Situations that not only have no right choice, but just by their existence change everything.

Life loves playing the “heads I win, tails you lose” game with us.

Next time you are faced with a choice which will mess you up irrespective of whichever way you chose, remember this; impossible choices are life’s way of telling you you are not in control.

What do you do when faced with one of these choices? No idea, so far, i’ve been fucked over by every one of these. I guess you pick up the pieces, learn to be happy where you are and be prepared for the next time.


“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?”

A young priest fresh out of seminary once asked me, when he learned that I was a fan of philosophy and other arcane things. I remember the delight on his face, watching me struggle to come up with an answer. He did not give me one. This is a famous paradox also known as the omnipotence paradox.

Much later, I learned that the correct answer is- such a meeting is not possible, because, by definition, if there is an irresistible force, there cannot be an immovable object. This is a rule in logic.

Life doesn’t give a rats ass about the above rule.

You will face things that simply should not exist, but do. Good things and bad. Forces, events, emotions, people that cannot possibly be, but are. Life’s like that.


All of us have non-negotiables. 11 years ago, fresh out of home, when I went to college, my religious beliefs were non-negotiable.

“There is one God eternally existent in three persons, the Bible is His word and The Brethren ( my church) understand it best”

In a year, the last part eroded away. Then the others did too. After a decade , a bare-bones, qualified version of the original statement of faith persists.

The evidence based practice of modern scientific medicine was the non-negotiable then. No way I was going to be a quack.

Then I started practicing medicine and realized that there was much my training was completely useless for.

Some time along the way, I also picked up a love for the free market economic system. And then, that changed too.

Today, some of my old non-negotiables are back, most are new.

Honesty is not always the best policy, but family always comes first. The definition of family has changed, though.

Here’s what I’m saying: If you are doing it right, you will chip away, brutally, at all the things you were taught or believe are the most important things in your life, and then constantly refine the remaining list.

Most of your non-negotiables are negotiable.

The glorious battle

J oswald chambers zen pencil we were made for the valley
Adapted from the lovely zen pencils cartoon linked below.

Remember that part in the new karate kid movie when Jackie Chan makes Will Smith’s son put on and take off his jacket again and again and again and in the end  it all makes sense because he was teaching him the greater lessons about kung fu? And how in the end he uses this knowledge to win that big amazing glorious event?

Here’s the thing; most of us- we’ll never have that final glorious battle.

We just get to take the jacket off, put it on again, and agin and again till we “get” it. Because character and life and all that grown up stuff is not about how you do in the last glorious battle, it’s about how you do now, today, tomorrow and the day after that, even when there is no glorious battle right at the end.

Inspired by this brilliant-as-ever Zen Pencils comic:Made for the valley 


Every time you do, you become better.

When you do the dishes tonight even though are bone tired, your tomorrow begins better.

When, after having wasted the whole day preparing to write your assignment, you force yourself to write one paragraph even though you just want to sleep in shame; the assignment has one less paragraph to do.

When you fold your clothes right after you dry them, when you tag your mp3s as soon as you download them, when you do; you become better.

Because the next time, it is a bit easier, and once you do it regularly, it’s actually fun. If not the action itself, the realization that you’ve transitioned from wannabe to is.



There is a hierarchy of needs. A hierarchy might not imply one is more important than the other, but it often implies one is more urgent than the other.Roti, kapda, makaan, (survival) always gets more attention than freedom and equality.

For a society to reach a place where a “higher” goal becomes important, the “lower” goals need to be met. This is why, even amongst widespread agitation against corruption among politicians, corruption in the common man goes un-challenged. It is assumed that the common man needs corruption for survival. More accurate would be how, as people rally against corruption, that theie leader is a homophobe is not important. To them it is more urgent  to have a nation that is not corrupt, than a nation that treats everyone, even the queer, equally.

Around 60% of this country does not have its basic needs met. of the remaining, only about 10% have enough to sustain themselves and some more. only around 2%of the country can be considered “upper middle class”. Clean streets, therefore, have a lower priority than clean water.

The common indian understands this. We prioritize.

This is why all voices are important. Even that of the homophobe who fights corruption. As important as the enlightened, non-homophobic, non-corrupt, highly ethical leader. (Except that the latter does not exist. Yet) Because it takes many small voices crying out about their priority to transform a small thing into a massive movement.

This is why activists take a lifetime to get awards.

What is your priority?