Maxed Out 

Becoming who we are going to be

We become who we are slowly. We evolve. Most of us have a difficult enough time figuring out who we are, hence the glut of so-called self-help books on the market and the neverending popularity of professionals prefacing their trade with the word psycho.

We become who we are going to be equally slowly. If figuring out who we are is a challenge, is it any wonder how much more difficult it is to have any clue about who we are going to be once we factor the additional dimension of time into the matrix?

Fact is, most of us have more than enough trouble getting a handle on the here and now. We’re absolutely hopeless once we start dealing with the then and there.

This explains – partly – the pathological addiction we have to junk food. If the first Big Mac or bag of Cheezies we ever stuck into our mouth turned us into a pathetic blimp with a GI system as efficient as a Baghdad sewer, we’d probably take a pass. By the time we’ve reached the millionth served, to ourselves, it’s too late. We have become the people we used to make fun of at the beach.

This rambling introduction is brought to you by the intertwined phrases ‘creeping incrementalism’ and ‘tipping point’. Both concepts fought for shelf space in my mind Monday night while a mad man rambled on about something that may or may not have had anything at all to do with the Nita Lake Lodge proposal. They fought for shelf space because my mind was stuck in a loop of dark thought best summed up by the spontaneous outburst, "Shit like this gives democracy a bad name." There ya go Colin; don’t ever say I never take my readers’ requests to heart.

Creeping incrementalism generally refers to a governmental process of change that minimally reconfigures and modifies an existing aspect of the system. While stressing continuity and stability, the process is one of gradual change. At its most draconian, it nudges society, or government or education or healthcare toward a configuration most of us would never stand for if it was proposed in one fell swoop.

Throwing a frog into a pot of cool water and lighting the burner is an example often employed to demonstrate this phenomenon. But it can operate on a strictly personal level and be tied in quite neatly with the aforementioned pathological addiction we have to junk food. The discovery, for example, that we may have gained a pound or two over this most unsatisfactory of seasons – the result no doubt of too much noshing and not enough schussing – is really no cause for great concern. Were we to do this every season, however, we would quickly begin to resemble Homer in a mu-mu. Creeping incrementalism.

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