The Art of Not Taking Control

You’re probably scratching your head, wondering how I ended up here. Nestled in my Chesterfield throne smack dab in the middle of the Lovell Telescope dome. How did a schmuck like me score such a prime spot? All to nurse a bitchy Cosmo while lost in the abyss of deep thought. Sure, it would’ve been classier to sip on aged whiskey while puffing a Cohiba stolen from Fidel Castro’s personal stash. But I don’t like whiskey. And I don’t smoke. Let’s keep our feet on the ground, folks.

And what’s this a schmuck like me business? You don’t know the half of it. You only know what I choose to let slip. And for all you know, it could all be a load of bull. A shocking twist, but let’s not rule that out. Anyway, swallow the pill of reality and assume I have no reason to spin yarns or concoct a life story just to keep you amused.

So here I am, in the belly of this gargantuan sensor lost in the English boondocks, hoping to catch cosmic waves that will steer my decision. I could’ve just as easily sought advice from my starry ancestors, like Simba. But on second thought, as far as my memory serves, none of my forebears made any life choices that were particularly inspired or even slightly brighter than mine. So yeah. It’s better to trust the cryptic whispers of the universe. Wait for a sign. A message from the great beyond, to guide me in this moment of paralyzing doubt.

Even though we have the luxury of gallivanting around the globe, giving the middle finger to our carbon footprint, Mrs. Reznyk and I have set up our base camp in this dreary capital, where everything is too much this and too much that. So, we gripe. We rant. Often. Let’s just say our itch to escape is becoming increasingly insistent.

We whine and whine, and out of the blue, fate dangles a plush job in a seaside resort for the silver spoon crowd. The project is tantalizing and within arm’s reach. From a reliable source, my profile is a match made in heaven for the decision-makers.

So here it is, the golden ticket to swap this life for sea air, oysters, and wine, with the only daily hassle being to dodge the dog poop left on the sidewalks by pet owners too worn out or too snooty to pick it up. All I have to do is grab the bull by the horns. Gather some evidence of my mind-blowing talent. Fill out an application. Make a few phone calls. Piece of cake.

Yeah, it’s a piece of cake. Except what should’ve been a slam dunk slowly morphed into a gnawing doubt. We started second-guessing. At first, each in our own corner, too sheepish to bring it up. After cursing our existence with every downpour, every sourpuss we bumped into in the neighborhood, it wasn’t easy to admit that maybe, just maybe, things weren’t so rotten. And then the inevitable discussion wormed its way onto the marital table: “What’s your gut feeling? Should we do it? Should we not?”

Relieved to find that the uncertainty was a shared burden, we whipped out that famous two-column chart you know. The chart of life-altering decisions, the one with the pros and cons. How many times in our fleeting time on this earth do we face a real fork in the road? A choice that will drastically and permanently reroute our existence? Four times, maybe five?

We filled in the columns: the Italian restaurant, the late-night supermarkets, the theaters we seldom visit, the museums we never set foot in, the proximity of airports and public transportation all made a case against leaving. I noted with a smirk that the “cons” often reeked of bad faith. The icing on the cake was the Japanese gadget store Miniso, put forth by Mrs. Reznyk.

At the end of the exercise, we found ourselves staring at an almost perfect balance. A balance that was particularly irksome. But in fact, everything pointed to the fact that neither of us really wanted to leave. This unexpected opportunity had managed to make us fall back in love with our humdrum life. The fear of the monotony of a quiet life in a privileged environment had us in a chokehold. On the flip side, the regret of having given up oysters at the first sign of disappointment on our greasy pavements was looming over us.

Yeah, it was a cluster fudge. I had to make a decisive choice between two lousy options. Now you understand why I needed this moment of extreme focus, my brain perched at the focal point of this giant lens.

And then the miracle happened. The magic worked. At the last sip of my milf cocktail, I knew exactly what to do. I can’t pinpoint what finally sparked the idea. The British cunning that saturated the country air? The power of the stars firing up my neurons? The chorus of all the cowards who had trodden this path before me? It doesn’t matter. I had the solution and that’s all that mattered.

I returned home, triumphant, with the ultimate plan oozing with cunning. It boiled down to two paired concepts: apply, to dodge regrets, but do the bare minimum to not optimize my chances. Produce just enough to let others make the call.

So, no regrets about letting a chance to escape slip through our fingers. And no remorse about ending up in a retirement home, bored out of our skulls for the rest of our days. Whatever happens, we’ll make sure it’s someone else’s fault. The fault of the jerk who condemned us to stay here in the urban jungle. Or the fault of the fool who signed us up to die of boredom in this old folks’ town.

I followed the plan to the letter. I submitted my application with a bland resume and a motivation letter devoid of any epic flair, dull and bureaucratic. I had a passable interview where I sold only a modest dose of dream.

And guess what? Everything went off without a hitch. I wasn’t selected. But it was a close call. Perfect: a masterstroke. This dimwit of a director couldn’t detect my incredible talent behind this passable presentation. This made him a particularly subpar recruiter. But most importantly: he was now the scapegoat for all our future grievances.

The kicker is that I found out a few days later that the angency had selected one of my friends for the coveted position, someone with a profile eerily similar to mine (but obviously inferior). I sent him a little message: “Congratulations! You may know, I also applied for this position. I was disappointed not to have been chosen. But I’m actually thrilled to know that it’s you who beat me to the punch. Well done!”

No choices.
Neither remorse nor regret.
And scapegoats to loathe in our stead.
The coward’s bliss.

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