When I first read this writers prompt, I laughed.
It seems like an unnecessary limitation, to view the world in terms of “either/or.” I prefer to view such questions as “both/and.” So, my answer to the question “Chocolate, or vanilla?” is: YES!
It’s similar to other qualifying questions, like “Boxers or Briefs?” “Beatles or Stones?” “Cats or Dogs?” “Freud, or Jung?” I was the kid who rankled when a favorite teacher posited that life’s issues aren’t always “black and white, but often shades of grey.” My response, at the tender age of about 10, was — to hell with that! I want a bigger box of crayons!
The Feldenkrais Method develops a practice of cultivating multiple options for action in any situation, particularly those in which our habits and preferences are strong. This practice can be expanded to include the development of multiple ideas or points of view to solve problems. When you have more options, function improves. It might be an apocryphal quotation, but I believe Moshe Feldenkrais is credited with saying, “Any idea is a good one, as long as it’s not the only one you have.” (Please let me know the correct attribution of this quotation, if you know it.)
I’m eager to explore the thinking of James Gleick and other information scientists, to ponder how the many multiple choices of everyday living get boiled down into binary code, zeros and ones, on-off functions. That so much variation can occur in nature, based upon which genes switch on or off (another level of “information transfer”), is a problem far above my pay grade. I won’t solve it, but I’d like to think about it more deeply.
In the meantime, given a choice between chocolate or vanilla, I’d love to choose raspberry, or pistachio, or toffee sometimes. But then, I’ve always been difficult.