kestrel

kestrel, walking
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2019-08-18 21:50:45 (UTC)

Prompt 039: Know the Next Hour

39. If you always knew what was going to happen in the next hour, how would it inform your choices and why?

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This seems to me a question of habits. Or maybe, since I'm personally fixated on the notion of habits these days, that I see a connection almost immediately.

Were this some kind of supernatural ability, I think I would become the ultimate procrastinator. My gut tells me that if I somehow would know -now- what I am doing an hour from now, then I would simply be lazy and put off taking action on anything, since I'd feel like nothing I would do would make much of a difference. It would be my destiny made manifest, and even my notion of "free will" wouldn't seem like much to crow about.

Inertia would mean everything. If I stayed at rest, I'd have a sedentary future. If I was constantly active - taking action - I'd know the results of my efforts ahead of time. But what if I wasn't successful at a task or endeavor? Would I "quit while I was ahead" or something? Would I be forced by supernatural forces to carry through with the effort, even though I knew I wasn't going to succeed?

The flip side is that were I to achieve some goal I had set for myself (and goal-setting is another matter entirely, it seems), and could envision my inevitable success, how would that affect my mood? Would I be constantly amped-up and motivated to keep doing things, knowing for sure that my efforts would be rewarded? Would that kind of attitude shape and permeate everything I do? Would I come to the realization that adjusting my attitude - regardless of the outcome - is the key to happiness?

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There's a phenomenon in board game design that I encounter from time to time when working with prototypes: my own designs, and the designs of others. In a nutshell, it's best described as "winners keep winning, losers keep losing." The issue is that sometimes in a game, if the player is successful at a specific task, they receive some kind of immediate reward. Sometimes that reward is just points, which is generally no big deal, as long as all players have the same chance to score points. However, it changes if the winner is granted some sort of ability. By using that ability, the winner can continue to win, and eventually pull ahead of their competition. Sometimes the winner continues to win so much that as soon as one player has attained that specific reward, then the game is pretty much over since the first player to gain that reward will likely become the game's winner.

On the other hand, there are some situations where "a run of bad luck" can cause the demise of a player's chances of ever coming back and winning the game. Their current failure has severe repercussions, to the extent that no matter what they do next - or later - they'll most likely never catch up to those in the lead. This player will eventually realize that they would be better off not playing.

Maybe always seeing into the future would be like this. Those who are on top will stay on top until they die (Oh! What would I do if I could see my death an hour in advance?!?!?!), while those who are losing will feel like they can bow out early, and die with a whimper.

Let me think about that last point: what would I do if I were able to see my death an hour in advance? Would I resign myself to my precognitive fate, and just set aside my wallet, notify my next of kin, send out my last emails and phone calls, kiss that last woman goodbye, and then just wait for it? Does this mean I could do all manner of risky daredevil stunts fearlessly and carefree, as long as I didn't see my death in the next hour? Or if I saw my nasty, brutish death, would I double-down on it and do all sorts of crazy shit that last hour of my life, knowing I had a full 60 minutes before I "felt the icy grip of death" upon me? What if I watched myself being tortured to death for an hour? What if I died in my sleep? Would the previous hour's dreams be filled with the knowledge I would be dead in 60 minutes?


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