Friday, June 19, 2009

Free Will Versus Reality

It must have been the fact that I even mentioned a ponytail, because Linda was at the hair salon Tuesday and made an appointment for me to have my hair cut. That was nice of her. I had been talking about doing it myself, so it was convenient that she did it for me.

Andrea, who usually cuts my hair, had someone else scheduled at the time, and I was shunted off to a new person whom I had never met. And let's fact it, with my semi-head of hair and the relative lack of stuff you can do to it, it's a pretty safe bet to give it to the newbies.

She was a bit of a chatterer which I am somewhat accustomed to but dare not say more. However, instincts must have kicked in because she was on to another topic when I asked her to back up and repeat what she said.

"Oh," she said, "you mean the bit about how short I can cut your hair? Well, your wife told us that you could get your hair cut short, but not too short. And she said you had been talking about a buzz cut and we had to ignore you if you asked for it."

"Oh," I said, then stopped because I couldn't think of anything else to say. And as I sat there watching in the mirror as my hair became short, but not too short, I started to remember other instances. Like whenever I would go into my favorite restaurant, Lee's Fortuna Court.

Stan would always end taking my order by saying to me and my guest, "Vegetables. Linda says you have to order vegetables." And of course I always ordered vegetables.

And today, as my haircut came to a close, I started wondering how many other people in my life have been told the limits of my free will. Were people at the company under secret instructions not to let me do this or that? Are the kids working under rules that I am only allowed to go so far before they stop me?

It all feels a little like Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner or Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Or maybe, it's even more like Winston Smith in Orwell's 1984. Only in this particular instance, it isn't Big Brother who's watching. More like Big Sister in this case.

But wait, those are all negative stories about people in authority controlling unwilling or unwitting people. This isn't being done to control me; it's being done to prevent me from making a mistake or not taking proper care of myself.

No, I am not married to Big Sister. She's not basing herself on evil dictators or egomaniacal directors. I know exactly whom she has patterned herself after. I think you can spot it, too, if I share a little poem.

She knows if I am sleeping.
She knows if I'm awake.
She knows if I've been bad or good,
So I'd better be good for goodness sake.

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