Ok or Cancel - The Dialogs in Life

For the last 2 weeks I've been engrossed in a web project at work trying to migrate a recruitment database from Access forms to web-based forms. It is actually workable right now (big surprise to me!) and the recruitment process is moving along smoothly. However, I'm enduring some serious after effects. I used VBScript to connect all the pages and being a novice at even VB in general, I've spent a lot of time trying to get things to work. I'm now thinking in "if...then" statements (which is not totally effective in a marriage) and I'm under the impression any mistake I make can be fixed with a simple click of the "Undo." Everything around me seems to be framed in procedures and sub procedures, which for one, lead to an interesting thought today.

The common interface between a user and his or her machine is the dialog box. It's small, to the point and in most cases directs the machine what to do next. Although some just inform, the majority of dialog boxes ask the user a question, or rather an ultimatum which requires an answer of yes or no, Ok or Cancel. Some contain a simple question, others an entire copyright. Some dialogs have evolved into incredibly complex windows with lots of information and a series of questions we must answer before clicking Ok or Cancel. No matter how many answers we come up with, it always comes down to one choice - Ok or Cancel. (Actually, there's the little close box at the top which technically counts as a null click, I think, but for all intents and purposes we'll count that a Cancel click. Man, what a geek) No matter what we chose in the interim, our click on one of the two buttons is what decides the next action the machine will take. I realized riding my scooter home today that life is like that in many ways.

How many times do we get hit with promptings from above that leave us with a choice? "Help that old lady across the street. Ok or Cancel" How often do we click Cancel too quickly, or perhaps ponder and mull over the prospect of acting on that prompting... and then click no? Some choices are quick and painless, like "Shall I eat breakfast this morning?" Others are incredibly complex, multi-faceted decisions impacting multiple people and setting the direction for the rest of your life. We can come up with our own answers, we can beat around the bush until the cows come home trying to figure out what to do, but it all comes down to one choice: Ok or Cancel

Theorize, analyze, rationalize it away, but it still distills down to one choice.

Visit the elderly at a nursing home even though they can't move and they drool and stink and might be gone soon anyway.

Ok or Cancel

Take a moment to reflect on your blessings even though a loved just passed away and you lost your job and your brother is in jail.

Ok or Cancel

Hold your tongue even though he or she has offended you so many times before and you're hurt and they're rude and you're so tired of it.

Ok or Cancel

Surprise a loved one even though you're so busy and your work day was hard and they see you 24/7 and already know you love them.

Ok or Cancel

Apologize to someone even though they deserve your grudge.

Ok or Cancel

Make the change in your life that you've needed for so long even though you're not ready and you're a little afraid and it might hurt.

Ok or Cancel

Help that old lady across the street even though you don't know her and it's cliché.

Ok or Cancel

Oh, how life is like an internet of its own. So many distractions and entertainments, enticements and allurements, inventions and deceptions - all swirling around a handful of worthwhile destinations. Each decision moves us closer to a destination. What kind of destination? It's not the balance of Ok's and Cancel's, but the sequence and frequency of our choices and the pattern set by such that determine what destination we ultimately receive. We will be lead finally to meet our Maker in the infinite worlds to come who will ask if we are prepared to move forward into glory and peace, a far better world of promise instead of continuing in the pain and sorrow of this life. At that moment, faced with the ultimate decision and final dialog box, the answer will make its way out of our heart, already determined by thousands of previous answers, before we can even stop it.





Sara said...

Wow. Just...wow.

I've often thought about this, too. How, regardless of my reason(s) for doing or not doing something, it's the resulting action that counts.

That said, even all my "Ok" actions will never be enough to qualify and justify me to enter into that glory and peace. I can only take myself so far. And after all that I can do, and during all that I am doing, there is Christ.

Thanks for the great post! Wish I didn't have to go to sleep so that I could think about it lots more tonight :)

Triet said...

When I was a freshman at BYU, I had lots of lung problems. Consequently, I couldn't do many of the physical activities I used to do (such as basketball). I spent most of my time cooped up in my dorm room or studying on campus.

So I turned to video games. I got a copy of the very first Grand Theft Auto, and would play it for hours on end when I needed to relax (Physics was a killer).

Otherwise, life continued as usual until the year ended and I returned to Houston. One day I drove down to the mall, and I came to a stop sign. It was a stop entering onto a busy street, and there were a couple cars in front of me. The lead car was not going, although he had lots of room to merge.

For the first time I caught myself fantasizing about jumping out of my car, and throwing open his door, ripping him out, and jacking his car. It all seemed so normal because I would do that hundreds of times a day in the game.

I said to myself, "no, you can't do that," and what was my fallback option? To pop up on the curb and drive over the corner and off the curb onto the street -- leapfrogging the cars in front of me.

Why? Because, again, that was what I had done hundreds of times each day.

Of course, I never followed through on such thoughts, but they made me laugh, because I realized what a different paradigm I was working under.

Often we are faced with a dilemma, and we are conditioned to respond in the only ways we have been taught.

xanghe said...

Sara, you make a point I totally missed in the post - the Mediator who makes up the entire distance that we can't accomplish on our own.

Triết, if I remember correctly, it was you who taught me how to convert the air conditioning controls on the dashboard to an arsenal of weapons hidden under my hood, and how to engage the semi-automatic rocket launchers from the trunk to blow the car that just cut in front of us to pieces. Now I know why.

Sara said...

Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" did that to me. It was the first time I realized that the only thing stopping me from doing such horrible things--and rationalizing them!--is little ol' me. Yikes!

And, Triet...I do seem to remember calling Rob once while yall were rooming together, and hearing something about 1-900-HOT-TUTOR??? Well, at least you were getting paid.

(Wow, what nice thoughts in the comment section of such a nice post)

xanghe said...

Tangents are what makes the world go round...

Triet said...

Hey, I completely stand by our work as tutors. It was completely legit...as legit as 1-900 numbers get...

And yes, I will not shirk from acknowledging that I did teach Xanghe how to blow up cars with rocket launchers. I still maintain that such a skill is highly prized in today's corporate world.

I was thinking about the "Ok vs Cancel" dilemma and "conditioned responses" (Pavlov's Dogs anyone?) yesterday when I had this thought:

My life isn't simple boolean logic. It's like I came from the manufacturer with a default configuration. The problem is, most of the defaults (natural man) are not what I want to be doing. So, as I become more experienced with this computer, I realize I need to change a default here, turn off remembering a password there, etc.

For example, Internet Explorer always asks you the first time you ever turn it on, if you want to remember passwords. In this analogy, I do what many people do -- blindly hit ok and continue surfing. It's only later that I realize the choice I made without thinking has adversely impacted my future free agency -- now anyone using my computer can log into things with my passwords.

So, as my knowledge (& light...) increases, I have to revisit my past decision, and turn off that feature in IE.

With small choices like IE password remembering, changing habits may be easy, however, other choices may leave more to be required.

For example, as we computers continue on this life, we gain peripherals and software. We did not start with these things. Software, like talents, are acquired through payment, and effort (downloading and installation) and add to our features. Yet not all are extremely compatible with our operating system.

Peripherals, like spouses and children, even more so. Often drivers do not work right, or one is totally incompatible with your system because of RAM or processor requirements.

Installing a bad program full of spyware, incompatibility issues, and possibly viruses, is similar to picking up bad habits such as smoking, drinking, or jealousy. Although the original choice was "ok vs cancel," the ramifications are far different. Simply going to the control panel and hitting "uninstall" will not fix your registry, close the ports artificially opened to hackers via the virus, or bring back your credit card information stolen from you via the phishing site the spyware took you to.

Multiple decisions and actions must be taken to rectify what you thought was a good program that in hindsight was a very bad decision. Sometimes the damage is so bad, your only option is to wipe the harddrive clean and reboot (denying the Holy Ghost?).

It's only through following experienced computer users, and reading the manual given to us, that we can help protect ourselves from the wrong decisions we naturally want to make, and install the software and peripherals that will truly make us a powerful machine.

travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)