End Of Argument
I once watched Paul McCartney being interviewed by Howard Stern. Stern, as he must, wanted to know why McCartney wasn’t “nailing every girl he met,” and Sir Paul gave what I thought was the best and only response to this sort of question you can give: “Because it’s not by bag, Love. It’s just not my bag.” End of discussion. Why? Because McCartney gave no explanation. Explanations, you see, can be argued with. McCartney offered no logic behind his choice, he didn’t try to frame it as some kind of moral decision—he simply didn’t want to bounce from bed to bed. That was the beginning and end of it.
That moment has stuck with me all these years. I think we arrive at two kinds of decisions. One is the result of deliberation. Perhaps we make lists of pros and cons, we research, we ask advice, and we think about it. I never feel secure with the choices I make in this way. No matter how much advice I seek or how many websites I consult, I always feel as though I’m trying to guess whether a coin will come up heads or tails.
The only thing I ever know for sure is what I want, or, to put it in McCartney’s 60’s vernacular, what my bag is. Everything else is guesswork. There is no truer and more continuous example of this than writing. If asked, you might say you chose this word or that scene because you were hoping for a certain affect or pacing, but even then you were choosing words and scenes to align with affects and pacing you wanted. There is no right answer.
Resting in what you want is the surest way to avoid argument, with yourself and with other people. In fact, I spend far more time arguing with myself than with other people. You see, I don’t always want to admit that the reason I’m doing something is simply because I want to. This seems too flimsy a rationale. Sometimes I will go so far as to summon some imaginary villain to question my decisions, and I will attempt to argue this lout into intellectual submission. Never works. There’s always another argument for why I could have done something else. Until, that is, I admit that I was only doing what I was doing because I wanted to, because doing otherwise would have been swimming against the current of my truest self, and that ends all argument on the spot.