On Infinite Choice

Stephen Hussey

One day every month I’ll tend to blow off my afternoon’s work and go to the movies at about 2pm.

It begins with me sat at my desk in the morning. I fool around for a few hours, and then after nothing happens I’ll think “yep, it’s that day again”. I turn to google to find today’s movie showings, pick one, and leave my desk behind.

Sometimes I’ll see a serious film I’ve been dying to catch. Other times it’s just some celebrity-voiced cartoon entertainment that I’ll shortly forget upon exiting the cinema. Occasionally it turns out to be The LEGO Movie and I’ll come out with a ridiculous smile on my face and want to call up my best friend and head to the nearest toy store I can find.

To make the treat extra special, I buy large popcorn (salt and sweet flavour) and a large Pepsi (diet of course, I’m not a complete monster).

Granted, I am a movie-junkie. I prefer to refer to my addiction that way over the more formal “Cinephile”, since the latter suggests I take my binging as a stern, analytical affair, when it feels much more indulgent than that.

Seeing anything from a Hitchcock classic to a new Marvel blockbuster projected on a big screen in the dark with an audience remains one of my primary joys in life.

But the point here isn’t the movies.

The point is the thrill of the spontaneity.

It’s the giddiness of throwing away your well-laid routine and doing something unexpected.

Dare I say, it’s the joy of the “Fuck it! I’m out of here” moment, when you cast off serious intent and decide to have fun while everyone else slaves away about their day.

I remember last month I did something similar. I spontaneously decided to meet some friends in London to spend the day in the sun – going for brunch, walking through Regent’s Park, eating ice cream – it was as though while the world went about the usual train tracks of their daily grind, we had snuck out of the matrix.

It felt all the more sneaky for being in the middle of a weekday, like we were having fun outside of the prescribed hours.

These small assertions of freedom in life might seem silly and trivial, but they add an essential flavour and energy of excitement that I know I’ve been guilty before of embracing all too infrequently.

The philosopher Jean Paul Sartre famously said that all mankind are “condemned to be free”. Available to us at any moment are a dizzying array of choices that we are always making, whether we are even consciously aware of it.

You make the decision to be the first one on the dance floor before the rest of the room gives you permission.

You make the decision to book a flight in the next month and take yourself on an adventure.

You make the choice to live the way you’ve been living, to run for a mile today, to use your body, to read a new book, to see friends, to enjoy company, to lay on the grass, to cook pancakes, to ask someone out, to give love to others…if you think for long enough, the choices available will stagger you.

But don’t get overwhelmed. Whatever you choose, there’s always the option to choose again. And again.

And again, and again and again…

Anyway, gotta rush. Movie’s starting.

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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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(Photo: Chris Ford)

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12 Responses to On Infinite Choice

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  1. Emily says:

    Your post reminds me of the premise of a book I’m reading called “The Desire Map: a guide to creating goals with soal” by Danielle LaPorte. Point is to identify our core desired feelings and do little things every day to live into them.

  2. Kathryn says:

    Everything is awesome! I’m still toying between the Lego Tower Bridge and a Star Wars Gunship.
    I love going to the cinema on my own, obviously I like going with friends too, but I can get immersed in the film more that way, surrounded by my snacks and drinks.
    I know exactly what you mean. I had a friend doing a world trip, stopping off in London. Spoke on the Monday, he only had one day, we said ‘f..k it’ lets go to The View at the Shard. It was amazing, people drinking champagne, eating very nice expensive popcorn (the only snack they sell) and all on a Tuesday. Looking down at the trains and the whole of London going about their business, you’re suspended in the sky. So spontaneous, so worth it.
    Make the choice to make fresh pasta, tried it yesterday, to die for! xx

    • Kathryn says:

      I was inspired to make the pasta whilst watching the Chef series on Netflix. The restaurant and chef in Modena, Italy. But my goodness the episode on Francis Mallman, Patagonia is unbelievable. I’ve always been fascinated by South America but this man is a completely free spirit, independent thinker, lover of the wild, passion, romance, philosophy. He talks about choices, life choices, it’s truly awesome.

  3. Olivia says:

    Haha. Yes I like the idea Stephen. It’s important to work constantly and efficiently on your projects but with a certain area of freedom for spontaneity. That’s what makes life meaningful. These days must feel so sweet, when you can do them on a weekday. I’ m looking for some ideas now, how I can break my routines to make some action more special. Any ideas? Like when you read a book secretly in class. Or to work on a secret project. Right now I’ m so fascinated to learn modern poetry by heart and act on it.
    Take care, Olivia

  4. Allison says:

    Wow! Just when I think I have you figured out you write a post that surprises me :) Much enjoyed…

  5. Beth says:

    This is a great blog Stephen I think its good to take a break from work and enjoy life a bit. We get so caught up in being serious that we forget that life should have its fun moments too. I love going to the movies too by the way any chance I can see a good flick or just go and watch a silly comedy I enjoy it. I also love to meet up with friends go to different restaurants and just stroll around the city enjoying the company of my friends and just enjoying the day. Life is an adventure we got to explore it!

  6. Emily says:

    This post makes me happy! I love matinées too, for the same reasons. There aren’t enough cinemas in my town, but when I pass through Toronto I try to arrange the timing to fit in a movie. It’s all the more other-worldly when you can go in the afternoon. When I lived in London as a student, I went to as many films as I could, and even though I could have seen the same films at home, it wouldn’t have been the same experience. (I was sad to see on my last trip through that my favourite cinema had become a parking garage!)

    I live in a place with several trail systems nearby, and the idea of “infinite choice” plays in a lot when I’m walking or biking on them. If you go THIS way, you’ll end up somewhere entirely different than if you go THAT way…which may lead you to a totally different set of choices, with other trees, hills, views… but the beauty of the physical path, compared to the figurative, is that you can always come back and try another path another day. (And the beauty of the figurative is that you can’t.)

  7. Arianna says:

    I love this blog, Steve! I am absolutely a cinephile. It is one of my favorite ways to indulge these days. There is something about sitting in a theater that feels both homey, and like you are about to take another adventure.

    The spontaneity piece is important, especially on those days that we are dragging. We need to feed our creative minds so they have material to work from, otherwise, we will continue to lose our ability to produce solid work. Whether a movie is bad or not does not matter much to me (especially if I went to the “cheap” theater. ;)). It is more about the experience. I have seen a few films recently that inspired me, and have made me say out loud, “I can’t wait to add this one to my collection!” Those are the ones I hold out for. :)

    Some films, just like good books, make me feel something, and have stuck with me over time.

    Thanks for a fun blog! Hope you are well.

    Arianna

    • Emily says:

      Hi Arianna! What movies have you seen recently that left an impression? I haven’t been able to see many of the ones I wanted to this spring because of work, so my list keeps getting longer–I missed Seymour, The Wonders, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, and Duke of Burgundy… I think the last movie I saw in a theatre was Selma. So much to catch up on! (At least there’s Netflix when you need it! ;) )

      • Arianna says:

        Hi Emily,

        There are a couple that have stuck with me more than others recently. Gone Girl and The Longest Ride. Both are film adaptations of books, which is a pattern I am noticing about many of my favorites. Gone Girl was well done. Great score, character and plot driven, suspenseful, we’ll thought out. I left the theater head spinning, wanting more. The group I went with literally had to debrief. It gave me a lot to think about.

        I loved The Longest Ride because it made me laugh AND cry. The more emotions I experience in one film, the more I tend to like it. I am a fan of a lot of Nicholas Sparks adaptations, as I am a romantic at heart, and he writes very sweet love stories.

        Other favorites that have stuck with me since the first viewing, and that are classics/favorites of mine due to beautiful musical scores, great acting, inventive directing, and cultural richness are Memoirs of a Geisha, and the film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, both of which were books to begin with.

        Also, I loved the Avengers, Age of Ultron! It was awesome!

        I don’t think I have seen any of the ones you listed? Are they supposed to be good?

        Arianna

        P.s. I Love Netflix! ;)

        • Emily says:

          Hi Arianna! I also love book-to-movie adaptations, though sometimes there’s a quandary of whether to see the movie first or read the book first! I like seeing the movie and then fleshing it out with the book, but then sometimes you can spoil the book a bit that way. And then sometimes they’re completely different–did you see the English Patient? It was so different from the book it took me a long time to reconcile them but now I love them both, just differently. Ditto Cold Mountain (same director, Anthony Minghella; coincidence?). There’s a new version of Far From the Madding Crowd just coming out now, based on the Thomas Hardy novel, starring Carey Mulligan and directed by Thomas Vinterberg, both of whom I love, so I’m excited to see that if I can make it.

          I haven’t seen Gone Girl yet but probably will–I read the book a couple years ago and would be interested to see the movie already knowing what happens! It does mess with your head. Plus I love Neil Patrick Harris, so hey. ;) I haven’t heard of The Longest Ride but will look it up. And I’m not sure if I’ve seen many Nicholas Sparks adaptations except The Notebook, which was really sweet, and yes, I cried buckets. I loved seeing Ryan Gosling and Rachel Mac together because they are both from my local area (I’m from Ontario, Canada) but have become big stars with big talents (we will say nothing of Justin Bieber :P ). Was Message in a Bottle also by Sparks? I think I saw that too.

          The other movies I mentioned are sort of art-house movies; Kumiko is about a Japanese woman who sees the movie Fargo and comes to North Dakota to look for the treasure, which she thinks is real. Seymour is a documentary of sorts made by Ethan Hawke about a music teacher, all about the creative process, and I’ve heard only good things about it. Duke of Burgundy came out just after 50 Shades and is also about a S/M relationship, but a very different kind–all the characters are female, and the role play has some twists in it–but the movie played for like 2 weeks in Canada and then disappeared before I could find it! Boo.

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