A Coin Flip

James - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on October 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: question

I believe that a coin flip is the best way to make important life decisions. But then again, maybe it’s not. I’m not sure. Oh well.

As a child, my friends and I would have fun together playing the coin flip game. I’ve heard that other children would dare each other to do crazy things, but we just flipped a coin. I guess It seemed like a better way to do things. Heads you did, tails you didn’t. Simple and elegant. No questions, no protests. I think in some ways, this was always more certain than the convoluted politics of dare, double dare, and the dreaded triple-dog dare. Instead we had heads and tails. A kind of cosmic positive or negative. Life or death. Or something like that.

Come to think of it, among children, coin flips should be illegal. At that age our minds and selves are insufficiently sophisticated to handle such a severe duality. I believe that human beings rely on the presence of complexity in an issue to excuse the many sides we take. Without the complexity of a pros and cons situation, there is only a right and a wrong in any given situation. If my history is correct, that is also what the Hitler Youth were told. I believe that coin flips are dangerous.

Growing up, the game became more securely involved in our lives. As early teens we found ourselves in the presence of newer and greater responsibilities. As kids we would flip to see if we wanted to push Becky on the playground. As teens, we would flip to see if we wanted to kiss her behind the school. That was a terrible idea by the way.

All of a sudden, what started as a mindless insistence on simplicity became a reckless ambiguity. Among us, the coin flip was god. I drank because Heads meant yes. I never did cigarettes, because Tails said no. I tried marijuana, but not pills. I believe that the world becomes a much scarier place when you take the decision out of the hands of the individual and put it in the hands of a dead president. As children we were fascists, as teens, we became anarchists.

As my friends and I matured, so did our coin flipping. By now we had become skilled enough to cheat the toss if we wanted, so we moved on to bigger and better things. The game changed. Instead of a flip, we now amused ourselves by creating the most complicated, infallible, random method of making a decision as humanly possible.

I believe that, for the most part, this saved us. From fascism and anarchy, we turned the tide against ourselves and began to see how ridiculous some of these decisions were. The crazier our methods became, the funnier it was. In the span of a few short years of creativity, the coin changed from a god to a jester. We moved beyond it and, what’s more, we learned from it. In the hours we spent envisioning brilliant methods of arriving at a yes or a no, we didn’t know it but we were swiftly building up our creativity and our ability to think outside the box. I believe that flipping coins could’ve killed us, but instead cheating those flips really saved us.

Now we are all in college. Looking back, I don’t think those decisions were as important as I may have thought they were at the time. I think I have gained a little perspective on life by not having made any of my decisions myself, and that is what I am truly here to share. I believe that flipping coins has taught me that many of the decisions we stress over and worry about are not nearly as important as we may think they are at the time. Sometimes we make the right decisions, and sometimes we don’t, but for the most part we’re gonna end up where we’re going. I think the forks along the way are there to serve as reference points when we look back, rather than as pitfalls to trip us up while looking ahead. I believe that whether you flip a coin, ask for advice, spend long hours debating, or simply go charging ahead, you will look back and say, “Well that wasn’t so bad.