Twin of the Day – Penny: At eleven weeks, Penny is now rolling over consistently — from her stomach to her back. She’s also holding her head up for extended periods of time, which allows for prolonged eye contact with mom and dad. Her big smile indicates that’s she content — at least for now. But she’s ambivalent about the future.
“Now what, daddy?!”
“What do you mean, Penny?”
What’s next? I’ll learn to crawl. Then I’ll be walking… and then I’ll have to go to school and get a job!
“Whoa! You’re getting way ahead of yourself, Penny — skipping past a lot of slumber parties and birthday cakes.”
“But it’s true, isn’t it?”
“Yes, there’s much to life that is predictable, but there’s still a lot of choice involved.”
“Ah yes, choice! Otherwise known as FREE WILL! A nebulous concept at best. — Give me even one example, daddy.”
“Ok, I’ll bite — This morning I wanted pop-tarts. When I opened the pantry, I saw two different boxes: cinnamon and blueberry. I could have chosen either, but I chose cinnamon.”
Well, daddy. — Let’s break this down, step by step. At some point after you woke up this morning, the thought entered your head, ’I want pop tarts.’ You didn’t choose to have that thought. We don’t will our thoughts into consciousness — they simply appear out of the ether. After you ‘decided’ to have pop tarts, you were presented with two options… and you chose cinnamon. — But your ‘choice’ was determined by your subconscious desires, which is a product of biology, past experiences, and environment. ——— I don’t see free will anywhere in that scenario, daddy.
“But, I’m still making those decisions, sweetie. Our ancestors believed that all events were willed by God or some other outside force. ——— But I guess you’re referring to the growing body of evidence from the field of neuroscience.
“Yes, daddy, according to theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku, “All decisions are made ahead of time by the brain, without the input of consciousness. […] The brain is influenced by thousands of unconscious factors that predispose us to make certain choices ahead of time, even if we think we made them ourselves.”
“I can’t really dispute that, sweetie. So, what’s the problem?”
“Daddy, you and mommy are responsible for the thoughts that enter my consciousness later in life.”
“Whoa… that’s a lot of pressure, sweetie.”
“Well, as they say — All you touch and all you see — Is all your life will ever be.”
“That’s Pink Floyd”
“Yes, daddy. — I already know their whole catalogue. Whereas, you didn’t discover them till college.”
“Again, your point?”
“You clearly didn’t TOUCH and SEE enough as a child.”
“You and mommy need to start cultivating my talents and interests in a concerted fashion.”
“Are you saying that you want us to become ‘SOCCER MOMS”?
“Yes, daddy, that’s exactly what I’m saying! Jesus, you can be so obtuse!”
“So, just to clarify, you want us to spend all of our free time meticulously planning your schedule, and then chauffeuring you around town in a minivan?”
“YES! — You and mommy need to curate every moment of my life to ensure that I experience as much as possible before I reach adulthood.”
“But, that’s not how I was raised, sweetie.”
“I know — You were free to go out and play whenever and with whomever you wanted.”
“And it was great! On the weekends, we’d aimlessly bike around the neighborhood, and then maybe someone would randomly toss a water balloon — next thing you know, we were engaged in a full-on water fight!”
“I know! No offense, but I don’t want to end up like you, daddy.”
“Hmmm… what’s that supposed to mean?”
“You weren’t exposed to enough in your youth… and then you wasted your 20s “finding yourself” — By the time you realized that comedy was your true calling, you’d already racked up $100,000 in student loans. Now you have to take jobs that you hate just to keep up. — You’ll be a slave to debt the rest of your life.”
“And you think its because I had too much freedom to determine my leisure activities?”
“Yes! And there’s more. — In addition to planning all of my activities, you have to ask me a lot of questions and elicit my opinions. — To further stimulate my development to foster my cognitive and social skills.”
“So, instead of watching cartoons on Saturday morning, and seeing where the day takes you. — You’d rather have it completely controlled and curated? — Maybe private piano lessons at 8:00a.m., followed by field hockey at 11:00a.m., and choir practice at 2:00p.m? Does that sound fun, sweetie?”
“It’s not about having fun, daddy. — I want to be confident that the so called “choices” I make later in life are the product of reliable subconscious factors and desires.”
“Ok. Ok. So, when does this concerted cultivation begin?”
“RIGHT NOW, DADDY!”
“Ok, sweetie. As you wish. Your mother and I will have total control over the character of your leisure activities. We’ll expose you to all sorts of books, puzzles, games, building sets, medical kits, art supplies, craft kits, musical instruments. — You’ll be so busy, you won’t have any time to experience the transcendence of youthful imagination.”
“Daddy, you’re the best! I love you so much! Or should I say… the thought entered my consciousness that I love you.”