Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Parallax View

“If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.” 
Jiddu Krishnamurti

‘Self-Awareness’ increases as we age, and is most evident in those that ‘think’ and contemplate their place in this shared reality, and therefore can cope better than those that live like dust particles in the Brownian Motion tube, unthinking and buffeted by the random wind we term fate.

Today, something happened in my lunch hour that illustrated the causal link between what I saw [and considered] about to happen to me, and my reaction to what appeared on my ‘Event Horizon’. What I saw, and interpreted through the prism of my consciousness was wrong, totally wrong. The stimulus of the approaching ‘event’, was filtered through my consciousness, and as I got ready to confront what I perceived to be trouble and braced myself for what I perceived to be danger, I understood why I made this miscalculation. It was much later when I ruminated over the incident, and became ‘self-aware’, I realized I had viewed the upcoming event through a parallax view. The conclusion I came to as I saw events unfurl in front of me, was wrong, but most crucially I understood why I had seen things through a parallax, because I understood myself – with due consideration of my frame of mind and frame of reference - that was specific to that situation, and the context of my thinking at that exact time.

So before I detail the incident, let’s take a look at my frame of reference, what my mind was engaged with, grappling with - when the incident kicked off, because from that I realized I viewed the event through a parallax.

I am living under a great deal of stress currently, and I think [with all due modesty] I’m managing it well, though it is hard on the mind. Specifically, I have our children scattered around the world, my wife is away looking after her elderly father, while my own elderly parents take some of my time; being the eldest son, and the one who lives closest by.

The business I co-founded over a decade ago is going like a freight train, which is great, but takes a huge slug of my time to manage as I’m not involved in the distribution of Baked Beans and Toilet Rolls, but problematical and heavily regulated products.

I have agreed to work, in a senior role and in a pro-bono capacity on a major event this autumn [Fall], and the time is getting closer, and expectations high. When I ponder in my dark moments why I agreed, back in 2012 in a bar in St Louis, MO to carry out this role, I realise I did so, as a way of saying thanks to the people who have given me so much pleasure over the years at these events. Coupled to that, I have been asked to be a proposed speaker at an upcoming TED TALK; something that is as prestigious as it is time consuming.

I also sit on two Boards, chair a working group, am a Company Secretary, and a Fellow of three Institutes, and a literary judge for The Crime Writers Association, Assistant Editor at - so I am basically a busy bloke.

How I cope, is a combination of a very understanding family, hyper organisation and my obsession with crime, mystery and thrillers which is my method of coping with reality and life, as this short BBC TV interview from World Book Night in 2011, indicates.

An active imagination and an addiction to reading [and watching] crime, mystery and thrillers can also have an effect on your cognition that you need to aware of. One such effect is a heightened sense of awareness, which some would call paranoia. Excessive reading about the dark side of human nature has consequences. I find it allows me to cope with life, a distraction to keep my consciousness occupied, trapped, engaged and away from rumination and dark thoughts about our ‘existence’; something that troubles many of us manifesting itself as ‘existential angst’

The problem is that all this “living in my head”, has another side-effect, which when all things are considered, is actually useful – the heightened sense of awareness, and therefore becoming actively ‘self-aware’ coupled with an understanding on how disingenuous can be our ability to ‘rationalise’ our actions, “as to” the situation we find ourselves in – and therefore justifying our actions, in the theatre of life, and the ashes of our death.

Today’s Event Horizon
Today, I woke with a troubled mind as I have much going on externally, as well as internally in my mind. My ruminations create stress, which I try my very best to channel in a positive manner. Over the years, I have found as uncomfortable as it is to grapple with the stress created by a troubled mind, the ruminations of my consciousness often result in finding solution[s] to what is troubling me. I find it very useful in problem solving and in business, especially as the ruminations are often prompted by reading detective novels.  I also find the act of writing helps ease the existential angst that are my thoughts, once committed onto paper like here, here, here and expanded upon as my world view here, I feel a weight lift.
Anyway, with a very busy and troubling start to the day, I went to Tesco, a local supermarket to get my lunch, a Tuna and Cucumber sandwich and some Cranberry juice. On the way back to my car, as I unlocked the door, I heard a shout.
“Hey, You!” I ignored the shouting as I unlocked my car door.
“Hey, You!” He shouted again, louder and as I turned my head, he was running toward me. He was a big bloke, mid-twenties all skinhead and muscle with a face molded into an ugly grimace.

“Hey, You!” He shouted again. People were looking over as he raced toward me. I realized I was at an event horizon, something was going to happen. Due to my stressed mind, I threw my Tuna Sandwich and bottle of Cranberry Juice into the car, shut the door, and braced myself. In that split second, I had thought he was some thug, and perhaps was bringing trouble to my door. Due to my troubled mind, circled with worries and stress, I had decided, fuck it, if he wanted a fight, he’d get one. With many onlookers, I realized I would have witnesses so I turned toward him and made myself rigid and braced for an attack. I recalled my youth, and the fights and thought if he throws a punch, I will not only defend myself and though I’m a middle-aged businessman, and my stamina is not what it used to be, I knew I could take him down, I just needed him to throw the first punch, and then I’d knock him down, hard. The act of defending myself would be helpful, a cognitive release; like an archer pulling back a bow and releasing all that kinetic energy with a solid defensive blow, so I felt my arms tense, muscles locked and eyes ready.

“What’s you problem?” I said cautiously as he approached.
“Not mine, yours”, he said pointing at my rear tyre.
With one eye on the big bloke, and the other on the tyre, I saw a sliver glint.
“I noticed the nail in your tyre, and when I saw you approach your car…” His face was no longer coated with the visage of aggression, but with a warm smile. “I’d get that looked at sooner than later” he continued.

I thanked the man profusely, and realised that I had viewed the incident in parallax, allowing my stressed mind, and my paranoia fuelled by reading crime / thriller fiction to totally misinterpret the situation I saw unfurl in front of my eyes.

As I sat waiting at ATS for my tyre to be checked, I thought of how treacherous our cognition can become, given the right situation and circumstance.

I also thought of Warren Beatty, and Alan J Pakula, and I felt a calmness spread over me as I again understood myself, and the problems and stress that circled me like wild horses started to dissipate.

I also felt a wave of déjà vu, as if this had happened to me before, as Membrane Theory postulates. Either way, at least I thought through and analysed my actions, and therefore helped understand myself.

“Greater in battle, than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men,
is he who would conquer just one — himself.
Gautama Buddha

Saturday, June 27, 2015

“Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.” Stephen King

Last year, I became obsessed by Nic Pizzolatto's TRUE DETECTIVE, and exposure to this remarkable TV Miniseries still affects my thinking, and my world-view. It reintroduced me to my early reading of Howard Philips [HP]H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Chambers, Gothic stuff - the Existentialist and Philosopher/Writers including Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, but especially Albert Camus, Sartre, Freddy Nietzsche and many, many others.

The exposure to TRUE DETECTIVE, was wonderful, as I am now a different person, in terms of the way I interpret the context of my existence, and those I share my time and thinking with. So my re-interpretation of those works from my youth, is different today, very different - but perhaps another key aspect of TRUE DETECTIVE, were the new writers and philosophers I encountered, such as Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, Joe Pulver and many others, and discovered the Antinatalists such as Emil Coran, Arthur Schopenhauer et al, and so my thinking was hijacked.

So Season 2 of TRUE DETECTIVE uncoiled itself last week, and again, it has dominated my thinking. After a second viewing of episode one, the excitement and anticipation of episode two is like an itch I can't stop scratching, as a huge slug of my cognition, my daily thinking is devoted to exploring this TV show, its themes, its core and poke the escalating cynicism we have toward reality.
This may make me sound mentally ill, but I really don't care.
Many with less patience, or are less aware of the perceived belief of having 'skin' in the game [we call life], have been perplexed by the opening episode. Not me, as I see the strands of Pizzolatto's narrative is revealing - like an angry river, leading to a bay, which on its journey is allowing us to observe the absurdity of this existence, though the parallax of another man's imagination - and a team assembled around him, to craft into physical reality from the fevered, and existential dreams of his consciousness, a shape we can see, in our own reality. A shape that when it emerges is as disturbing as it is curiously uplifting.
Imagine my surprise, when the show aired last week, that the title track, crafted to the surreal titles, is NEVERMIND by LEONARD COHEN.
So Season 2 of TRUE DETECTIVE has me returning to my love of Leonard Cohen, and in so doing, I have been re-evaluating his body of work; and I have to admit that his last album, POPULAR PROBLEMS [from which T Bone Burnett selected NEVERMIND for the titles], is utterly, utterly, total genius, thought-provoking, fuel for our cognitive process, beautiful, insightful, I could go on, but I won't, as I love it so much.

Though much of the songs on POPULAR PROBLEMS are dark, very dark, when dissected, however, they are remarkably insightful, and one in particular resonates in my mind like a Church Bell summoning the faithful for worship; It's called "DID I LOVE YOU", and it plays in my mind, in a perpetual loop - like the swirl of a roller-coaster from which I sit strapped.
'DID I LOVE YOU' also makes me smile, as the very first gift I sent Muriel Keogh, [from Saudi Arabia, where I was stationed], was Jennifer Warnes' FAMOUS BLUE RAINCOAT : The songs of Leonard Cohen'. I chose the Warnes tribute album, as I thought her interpretation of Cohen's words would be more accessible to this woman, the one, I fell in love with - only to discover, that she too was a fan of the Laconic Canadian, poet. One of the things Muriel and I share.

So for the next few weeks, I will be distracted by TRUE DETECTIVE, for which I am thankful, as it allows me to manage some of the problems ahead of me. I have found, one key method to reduce anxiety, and manage the existential panic that lies at the core of being a thinking human being, is to keep the mind and its cognitive apparatus fully occupied, distracted, if you will; otherwise madness beckons
Andy Dufresne: "Get busy living, or get busy dying."
Because Stephen King was correct when he said “Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.”, because we need to manage our thinking-cognition to survive this reality - and I am thankful to Nic Pizzolatto and his team for TRUE DETECTIVE, as its density is such, it is all encompassing, to many of us - as we're headed deep into TRUE DETECTIVE territory. This means that the insane logic that drives the engine of my thinking, and therefore my existence will be firing on all cylinders.
So I will leave you with a remarkable song, a gift from Leonard Cohen, with words that provoke thought, thus providing comfort and distraction from the shapes that emerge from the surrounding fog that some term the 'cloud of probability' that envelopes [and perplexes] us, and what others call - our lives, our reality; trapped in this rock in a corner of time and space.
Have a great weekend, TRUE DETECTIVE - Monday, and for that I am thankful

……………………Nevermind, Nevermind, I live the life, I left behind…………………………

Sunday, November 9, 2014

From London to LA - Bouchercon 2014

I am very excited [and fortunate] to be attending Bouchercon 2014 hosted in Long Beach California under Chair Ingrid Willis, and her team. It’s a long journey from London to the West Coast of America - made exciting and amusing by my wonderful friends and travel companions Mike Stotter and Roger Ellory.

I am very proud to be a member of the Bouchercon Board, putting something back into the genre that I love; as experience has shown me that viewing reality through the parallax prism that is Crime, Mystery and Thriller fiction, a most enlightening experience.

So after Long Beach, next year Bouchercon is being hosted in Raleigh, North Carolina – with novelist and academic Stacey Cochran Charing the team, with me helping on the Programming.  

2014 Long Beach, CA 13/11 – 16/11 >
2015 Raleigh, NC 8/10 – 11/10* >
2016 New Orleans, LA 15/9 – 18/9 >
2017 Toronto, Canada 12/10 – 15/10 > web page to follow
2018 St Petersburg, FL 13/9 – 16/9

*Raleigh, North Carolina is named after the famous British Explorer Sir Walter Raleigh who amongst other matters is credited in being the bloke responsible for bringing Tobacco to Europe 

So as we board that West Bound 747 next week, we are delighted to see that The Blouchercon Long Beach have developed a wonderful app for Iphone and Android. I’ve tested it today, and it is really superb, like having the Bouchercon Website in your palm, but with relational databases, making searching for authors, colleagues, panels, information fast and easy. Janet of Mystery Readers has more information here, with download links.
If you are coming, say hello to Mike, Roger and I. 

I am moderating two panels that might be of interest, so please look us up.

And finally, here’s some music that I’m listening to as I pack for the Journey West, and get my frame of mind sorted.

LA Woman by The Doors

It Never Rains In Southern California by Albert Hammond

Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band

Say Goodbye to Hollywood by Billy Joel

Hotel California by The Eagles

Carmelita by Warren Zevon

Lodi by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Macarthur Park by Donna Summer

Little Wine Drinker, Me by Dean Martin

Come a Long Way by Michelle Shocked

from Paul Hamilton on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From “Eric Zann” to “The Bungalow House”

I know I am late to the party, but I must admit my growing enthusiasm and admiration for the work of Thomas Ligotti which just grows and grows as I read though his work, in between CWA reading / evaluating, and my own writing. 

My interest in Thomas Ligotti was initially sparked by Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective. The True Detective HBO series really rocked my world with its fusion of crime fiction and the genre of weird fiction. Tracking down his work is rather expensive, as much is now out of print, so I asked my family not to buy me any birthday presents, as I’d like to celebrate my 51st year on this giant rock [trapped in space time] collecting and completing my Thomas Ligotti collection.  

In my youth I was an avid reader of horror, detective, mystery and the fiction of the weird; so I was delighted to revisit my love of horror and the weird, thanks to True Detective.

I have a particular fondness for Ligotti’s dark, and Lovecraftian-influenced tale ‘The Bungalow House’. It reminds me of one of my favourite HP Lovecraft tales, The Music of Eric Zann, an equally creepy tale, with a dream-like quality. It can be read here and a rather good video adaptation is available to view here. This little film version of "The Music of Erich Zann" is a horror film of haunting beauty and terrifying poetry, filmed in the style of the German Expressionist films of the 1920's.

A young student of metaphysics is forced to take the only lodging he can afford, a crumbling and decrepit building in a strange part of the city. Every night, he hears strange and unusual music coming from the room above him, music he cannot describe and cannot ignore.

He finds that the music above is being played by Erich Zann; a mute and eccentric German man who plays at night in a local orchestra. 

Fascinated by the man's genius, the student tries to befriend Zann and understand why such a great talent chooses to live in such squalor. Eventually, Howard learns of the secret behind Zann's music, one too terrifying to imagine.

Anyway, with roots deeply buried in the weird worldview that came from the imagination of HP Lovecraft, comes Thomas Ligotti’s "The Bungalow House", and here’s an extract -

“The bungalow house was such a bleak environment in which to make a stand: the moonlight through the dusty blinds, the bodies on the carpet, the lamps without any lightbulbs. And the incredible silence. It was not the absence of sounds that I sensed, but the stifling of innumerable sounds and even voices, the muffling of all the noises one might expect to hear in an old bungalow house in the dead of night, as well as countless other sounds and voices. The forces required to accomplish this silence filled me with awe. The infinite terror and dreariness of an infested bungalow house, I whispered to myself. A bungalow universe, I then thought without speaking aloud. Suddenly I was overcome by a feeling of euphoric hopelessness which passed through my body like a powerful drug and held all my thoughts and all my movements in a dreamy, floating suspension. In the moonlight that shone through the blinds of that bungalow house I was now as still and as silent as everything else.”

Thomas Ligotti described the story in an interview at Wonderbook -

“In ‘The Bungalow House’, I described a series of what I designated as “dream monologues” that were recorded on tape and intended to be works of art. The first dream monologue was a transcription of an actual dream I had and wrote down soon after I awoke, so it was also initiated my writing of the entire story. A second dream monologue in ‘The Bungalow House’ was only summarized, while a third was simply given a title, because at that point I had established the nature of the dream monologues in their incidents and meaning. For my purposes, to describe each dream monologue in its entirety would have slowed the pace of the story. All of the dream monologues were used to characterize the peculiar nature of the main character’s psychology. Sometimes I’ll characterize the events of a narrative as being dreamlike in some specific way, because over the years I’ve noted qualities that characterize dreams, such as that they have no beginning, an idea that was recently used in the movie Inception to prove to a character that she was functioning in a dream and not in conventional reality. 

A very short story I wrote called ‘One May Be Dreaming’ is pretty obviously a dream from beginning to end. The whole point of the story was that the protagonist was having a dream at the same time he was dying in real life. Usually, it’s not exposed until the end of the story that the whole thing was a dream. For his story ‘Where He Was Going,’ William Burroughs employs this method, his use of which he credits to Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Snows of Kilimanjaro.’ ‘Man from the South’ was Jorge Luis Borges’s rendition of this narrative structure. Perhaps I should say that I don’t think that dreams are anything more than rearranged experiences, sensations, and emotions. While they may easily be interpreted as symbolic or premonitory or whatever, I don’t believe that they are anything but intrusions upon what might otherwise be wholly unconscious hours of sleep.”

Thomas Ligotti interviewed at Wonderbook Read More Here

Listen to a wonderful dramatization from Pseudopod Here which will make you think, about what we term reality.

“The Bungalow House” was first published in 1995 in the horror fanzine The Urbanite and was nominated for a Bram Stoker award for short stories published in that year. Subsequently it was collected in THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY.

THOMAS LIGOTTI is one of the foremost contemporary authors of supernatural horror literature. His works been honored with several awards, including the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker award for the collection THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY (1996) and the novella MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE (2002). Revised, definitive editions of his first three story collections — SONGS OF A DEAD DREAMER, GRIMSCRIBE, and NOCTUARY — were published in 2010, 2011, and 2012, respectively. Revised editions of his collections THE AGONIZING RESURRECTION OF VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN AND OTHER GOTHIC TALES and DEATH POEMS were issued in 2013. Ligotti has also published THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE (2010), a nonfiction work that explores the intersection of the darker byways of literature, philosophy, and psychology. Forthcoming titles by Ligotti include a collection of interviews and a chapbook consisting of two newly written stories. The web site Thomas Ligotti Online was founded as a forum for discussions of and media related to Ligotti’s writings as well as those of wide range of authors, artists, and musicians whose work is associated with the horror genre, among other areas of interest to devotees of unconventional art and thought.

Incidentally is a great resource for lovers of audio horror, with plenty of weird fiction available for download and streaming.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

When The Road Forks

Most of us have barely enough time to spend analyzing our cognitive apparatus [our Brain, or ‘thinking machine’].  This is because [for most of us], the ability to hold firm [or cling], to this reality - takes all of our powers - of tenacity, of will, of motivation, of pattern recognition and survival skills, to purely ‘exist’. Many of us understand that this reality is far from benign, for it carries huge risks and is peppered with dangerous crevices, where danger lurks. There is additional danger, of hazards due to the huge influence of ‘randomness’ that is thrown into the proceedings. For all of us, the dangers are physical, as well as mental, and many of these obstacles [or situations] can be fatal, so we find that we use our cognitive apparatus, to just stay in the game – stay alive, and helping others [that share this plane of existence] to do so, also. Survival in this plane of existence can be viewed as our ability to traverse [akin to a speck of dust in a Brownian Motion tube] as safely as we can, in the random probability cloud that envelopes us, in ‘the present’, and what can we term as ‘the moment’ or the perceived, and then, interpreted situation - our reality. 

Some of us are better than others in managing our situation, of surviving reality, and the best we can hope for is that our abilities in using our cognition, hedges our bets. This is because when enveloped in the cloud of probability [that is ‘the present’], the best we can hope for is to be like that horse-racing scout, up early on the training grounds, watching the horses, the weather, the conditions for the race, and making decisions all based on the observations that the racing scout has perceived and then interpreted, in order to predict what the future is likely to be. Therefore, whilst existing in ‘the present’, the greater our ability to interpret the past, and understand how the cognitive process of interpretation in our minds operate [ie our internal operating system] – the better will be our chances in surviving the buffeting current of the probability cloud, and surviving to our future. Though we can at best only hope to hedge our bets, because the limitations of our mind, and our abilities in cognition are further hampered by the randomness that pervades our existence.

And as the Bard once said in Hamlet……..ay, there’s the rub…..

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;”

These thoughts make me visualise ourselves, to be that of figures, trapped within the confines of a giant conical tube, like an aviation wind tunnel, bracing ourselves, when the engine of reality, [the turbine] is switched on, and the wind tears at us, at our clothes, at our grip and our footing. Ahead of us, I understand that the turbulence [we find ourselves confronting, the 'situation', ‘the present’] originates from deep within the probability cloud I.

The turbulence is caused by the forces at play within the probability cloud, including our fellow beings with consciousness [as well from the interacting inanimate objects, devoid of consciousness but replete with actions that can come into contact with our hand and foot-holds in the wind tunnel. As we look behind our shoulders, we can see what I term ‘the past’, the results of the random, as well as the ‘erected’ events and decisions that have shaped themselves into the construct we refer to as ‘days gone by.’ - our past.

A key element of survival in this existence, is our ability to interpret the sensory input from the reality that surrounds, filtering this information through our moods, channels of thought, past reflections of what was the outcome of the ‘cause-to-effect’ ratios [ie pattern recognition] et. al. to create the holographic image of our place in this reality ie to use our brains to really delve beneath the surface veneer of the wind tunnel, confronting the turbulence that tugs on us like a solar wind, as invisible, as it is lethal. Therefore one key survival skill is our ability to question what this ‘place’ is, and how it works, or more precisely our interpretation of our ‘situation’, or what we term ‘the present’.

So, for some of us, the more we age, and for the more adventurous [amongst us], and the more analytical we are, then, this allows those of us [with this ‘curious / need to know’ inclination] to ruminate on what this existence is all about. Many of us are looking for clues that might unlock what existence is, and the more we ruminate by examining our thoughts [as to what might be the answers], the more we realise it is likely to be plural, as opposed to singular – ie there are many possibilities as to what this existence is, or how it came into being, especially how crucial the observers are in order to bring this existence into reality.

We should also start to consider that existence, as a shape, is perhaps fractal in design and execution, as well as, being in the shape of many possible existences, all available, all of the time, dimensional as well as functional, and all ‘in-concert’ as an endless array of choices around us. Some of us, from time to time, slip between scenarios, or traverse through the ‘probability cloud’, or as some would term ‘the multiverse’. Others can't, they remain rooted in their belief systems as they get perturbed when a thought or observation conflicts with their value system. This is termed 'Cognitive Dissonance', the inability to manage thoughts and observations that conflict with their ingrained beliefs. This usually affects the deeply religious, the bigoted, the indoctrinated and those who live in denial. 

One way to visualise what reality ‘is’ [or realities ‘are’], and the more robustly we have the ability to do so, then may well hedge our bets in terms of surviving this probability cloud, and making it toward the future [with the least amount of scars], like the racing tipster, in his grey raincoat clutching his note book and binoculars on a misty morning, surveying the stallions, and the trainers milling around and preparing to enter the probability cloud; and betting on the outcome.

Others use another technique, flipping that coin that lies in their pocket, or pinning the existential tail, on the existential donkey.

Some do nothing, but leave their destiny to the hand of fate.

I know which method I prefer.

Age is helpful, but more crucial is the ability to learn from the events and experiences that pepper our past observations, trying to understand causality [‘cause-to-result’] in our lives and the existential parameters that define the rules and events of the game. Age has also made me focus on what is so key to traversing from the present to the future, and surviving, or at best hedging my bets to survive the game. An understanding of the rules is also key to surviving the game, but when we entered the game of life, we were not issued with a rule book. Instead we had to use our skills [within our cognitive sensory apparatus] to interpret the reality we find ourselves in, and piece together the rules that govern the swirls and currents within the probability cloud - to survive to the future, and then the cycle repeats, because if the present is a probability cloud, we have to become good at the decision making process, because when the road ahead forks, as it does many times in our lives [with some forks less important than others], each time we approach a fork, we must understand how crucial it is to make the right decision.

It is useful to look back at the past, turning our heads to examine the decisions we made, and how we came to make those decisions – and what where the results from those decisions, and how they shaped the ‘present situation’ we find ourselves in.
One important consideration is to actually make a decision; and understanding that the internal filters that power our cognition, will influence the decision we arrive at, and one that we travel along. 

We must also understand that the first part is straight forward, ie actually making the decision. Some suffer ‘decision-paralysis’, like that rabbit forever trapped by the magnetic attraction of those headlights coming at us, and so pause worried which direction, which decision we should take as the lights come at us. When we hear the squeal of brakes, and the abrasive tears of the rubber tyres hitting our body, we realise we’re too late. Our hesitation was [when placed ‘in-concert’ with the upcoming lights from the future, colliding with our present] our demise, and the words ‘game over’ come to mind.

So if we can overcome the dithering [and our default position, which is procrastination] when weighing up what decision to make when the road forks, we have a secondary problem to consider. The cognitive process that our consciousness [as well as our subconscious] mind deploys in filtering through our sensory apparatus and signals can pose dangerous traits that must be managed. The inputs that shape what decision we have to come to, have to traverse our mood, our health, the context of our existence [like what handholds we have in the wind-tunnel], our past memories of the effects of causality, our prejudices and preferences – in making the decision. The danger is that unlike the rocks around us, our minds are conscious and therefore have subjective methods of analysis, therefore if we bias our decision upon our mood, then our thinking is swayed away from the objective, so we may well make a decision that is not logical, as our thoughts and cognitive channels that our thoughts traverse, may be disingenuous. Feelings and Mood are dangerous shapes to hook our anchors and decision making process to, because they are not constants, they shift and change and those shifts alter / influence our outlook upon life, and the probability cloud we find ourselves in. This can lead us to make bad decisions, which lead us into difficult situations.

I recall a funny line from Woody Allen’s 1973 film Sleeper when asked about his mind, he retorts …my brain: it's my second favourite organ….” So if we then consider that Allen’s character’s male sexual organs are his favourite organ, then any decision making process, based on his immediate sexual needs, is in turn influenced by the level or concentration of Testosterone in the blood stream [and the production and equilibrium level of that male sex hormone is in turn influenced by our self-worth, our state of mind etc] – so we must take care when confronted with a fork in the road that has a sexual element involved in the decision we must make. This rationale illustrates why so many marriages, partnerships, or relationships will fail, as one or both partners may make very crucial decisions, that will affect the rest of their lives, but are/were heavily influenced by their ‘mood’ [at that moment], which in turn is chemically, as well as cognitively related to their thinking process.
So the way we think is vital to manage [and in turn, survive] the reality, or probability cloud that is ‘the situation’ or ‘the present’ – we find ourselves in, and therefore will steer the path to our future or futures, depending on the conceptualisation we create of what the future holds for us.

One key aspect of managing our cognition or thought process is what is termed Neuro-linguistic programming [NLP] or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy [CBT]; which in its simplest definition is the language we deploy to communicate, which in turn at best influences, or at worst controls our thinking. We must take care in the language and the way we deploy our language to those around us, not just verbal, but also non-verbal communication, because not only does it send signals and alters the thinking of those that co-exist with us in the wind-tunnel, or probability cloud that is ‘the present’, but worryingly, it also shapes what the way we think, and that in turn shapes what we perceive as our reality, and that finally makes us come to the decisions in our lives, when the road forks.

So Descartes was right, when he postulated “I think, therefore, I am.”

Be careful when making your decisions, and always be aware that you are not alone in the “probability cloud”, that is “the present”. You actions and decisions may well have a ripple effect on the others around you, just as their decisions and actions will affect you, as you traverse toward the future.

Sometimes the decisions we make, and the actions we take [or not take] may influence [at best], and define [at worst] who we are; and in the journey that is the movement from the present, into the future, we should understand that the forks in the road, and the decisions we’ve made will change us, make us different to the reflections of ourselves, as we look behind ourselves at the past, and what happened. We must also realise that the cognitive process within our brains also has the ability to alter our recollections of past events and deeds, often as a coping mechanism, but also as a method of rationalising our existence; our place in the probability cloud that is the present.

I think David Byrne and Talking Heads summed it up well 

While Michael Stipe and his colleagues at REM took another view of these themes of confronting the present as we move forward to the future

While Stipe was influenced by the tempo and significance of David Essex, and this song which also resonates with the themes of this essay

So when someone tells you [usually with a disingenuous voice or agenda], ‘hey you’ve changed’. You should smile and remind yourself that, of course you have changed; as the act of decision making and living with the consequences of those decisions, will change you, to lesser or greater degrees, because one of the reasons why Paul Valery remarked ‘the future is not what it used to be’, is because you made a decision today [in the present], as have others, and the fruits of those decisions, is what we term as the future, a future where you are different.

If you prevaricated, or procrastinated when faced with the fork in the road, rather than grapple with the situation in the probability cloud, and face up to the consequences of your decision, you could be that rabbit hypnotized as the lights come at you, and take you out of the game, leaving just a rubber skid mark as a reminder, that you did indeed exist.

You should perhaps also ponder on the fact that the concept of time [that we've been lead to believe] may well be erroneous, as time does not flow in the 'river' analogy, but could be better considered as a construct we've created, to rationalize the events that occur, and linked to the decision making process, interacting with those of others as well as the random interactions of events to the observers trapped in the probability cloud.

More troubling is the question of the veracity of what we term 'free will', because if the axioms discussed here have validity [to greater and lesser degrees], then the whole concept of 'free will' comes into question, for it is far from an absolute concept. 

'Free Will' like 'Time' may well be a construct of sorts.

Why, Why, Why?

The ability to create abstract concepts such as 'time', or 'free will' may well be yet another coping mechanism, a method to cognitively create order where there is none, and also to fool ourselves into believing that we have purpose in this reality, when perhaps there is none, for the probability cloud we term 'the present', physically is a trap we find ourselves in; a trap constructed on a giant rock, caught up in a tiny part of 'space-time', for which the only escape or solace [as conscious beings] is the knowledge [no matter how disingenuous] that there is meaning [to our lives] within the swirls of the probability cloud, and that we have significance, when most of what we perceive, and cognitively distill - indicates that there is none.  

Another coping mechanism, is the understanding that if all this is 'true' then our existence in this 'probability cloud', that we term 'the present' is, above all else absurd, and we must console ourselves with laughter at the situation we find ourselves in.

Because if we didn't then it is 'game over man, game fucking over'