I want to be perfectly clear: everything about this whole post is hypothetical. It is not based on any real person, and besides, that person wouldn’t want me to betray his or her trust by blogging about his or her dilemma in a public forum. If in fact that hypothetical person is not me.
If that person existed, I mean. Which he or she does not. Because this is a hypothetical situation.
Are we clear on that?
The (Hypothetical) Situation: Perspective 1
Suppose, for a moment, that you—though of course this is not about you, nor about anyone real, for this is a hypothetical situation—had signed up for a bike race. It’s a really difficult bike race, and as a realist, this hypothetical version of you knew that there’s a very good chance that you may not even start it, much less finish it.
So when you hypothetically signed up for it, you didn’t tell anybody, not even hypothetical people.
Now suppose that the race is getting close. Maybe it’s a few weeks away, maybe it’s a couple months away. You realize that you’re borderline: you might be able to finish it if you have a good day. Or you might completely implode and have to be carried off the course on a stretcher if you have a bad day.
What do you do?
- Option 1: Do the Race. You could take a chance and do the race. For one thing, it would surprise everyone you know that you’re doing the race, since you’ve done a very good job of concealing the fact that you’ve signed up for it. The surprise alone is worth quite a bit. Even if you don’t finish the race, you’ll have some stories to tell.
- Option 2: Don’t Do the Race. You didn’t tell anyone you signed up for this race for a very good reason: you didn’t want to embarrass yourself by bailing out. And now you can bail out, avoid suffering, and avoid the possibility of DNF-ing a race.
- Option 3: Do Part of the Race. What if you went to the race and just did as much as you could do before you blew up? Of course, there’s the risk of getting caught up in the excitement and becoming unwilling to pull the plug even though it’s prudent.
Quite a conundrum. Now let’s look at it from another perspective.
The (Hypothetical) Situation: Perspective 2
Suppose you are no longer the hypothetical guy who has hypothetically signed up for a hypothetical race (actually, the race is for sure not hypothetical, but we won’t specify which race it is, just to be extra-vague). Now you are a hypothetical friend/acquaintance/spouse/sibling/whatever, who, for unstated (and quite possibly hypothetical) reasons, this potential racer has hypothetically confided to.
What do you do?
- Option 1: Tell Her or Him Not to Race. Obviously, this person is conflicted about doing the race, and this race is not a trivial effort. If s/he’s not really into it, s/he probably shouldn’t do it. (You know, this “s/he” construction is fully lame. Did you know that Finnish doesn’t have gendered pronouns? All pronouns are gender-neutral, and nouns and stuff don’t get genderified, either. On the downside, the language does have 23 nominal declensions and genitive postpositions and other parts of speech that English speakers have never even considered.)
- Option 2: Tell Her or Him to Race. How do you know whether you’re capable of completing the race if you don’t try? At least if you try and don’t finish, you’ll know where you stand. Or, more likely, you’ll know where you lay.
- Option 3: List All the Options and Completely Avoid Offering Any Actual Practical Advice. Hm. This option appeals to me. Or at least it would if this situation weren’t hypothetical. Which it is.
Your advice? Your hypothetical advice, I mean.