08 January 2006

Pivotal Moments Part 2

(Pivotal Moments posts are all about life-defining events in my life. If you haven't, do read the first part)

I don't remember how old I was, but we were having a family reunion dinner. I was still quite young, maybe 9 or 10, so I was sitted between Mum and Dad. Besides the three of us, my aunts and my paternal grandfather was also there. As in Chinese tradition, before we start eating we must ask the eldest person there to begin. In this case, it was my grandpa.

Maybe I was shy or unaware of this practice, but I didn't wish him accordingly. Mum noticed it and asked me to do so but I didn't want to because it would be weird. But she didn't let the matter drop and kept on pushing me to just say those simple words. And the more she pushed, the more I resisted because everyone has started eating and it would be rather embarassing to blurt it out. But after 5 minutes of her nagging (seemed like eternity though) I finally said, "Grandpa, eat".

Looking back, I'm amazed at my self-consciousness even at such a young age. I can't believe I already notice this phenomena called Comfortable Time to Do Something (CFTDS). Basically, there are certain things in life that must be done during the CFTDS period. Once you pass that crucial time, any remedial actions you do will seem insincere and fake.

Let's set up a sample scenario - you are in the library reading a book. As you are turning the page you look up and saw someone passing by. He looks at you also and gives you a slight nod but you didn't return the gesture. In your mind you think, "Do I know this guy?"

You continue reading the book for 0.8 seconds and suddenly you realize who it was - he is your ex-girlfriend's best friend's brother. You freeze in horror. "Why didn't I say Hi?!?" He is currently sitting about two tables away, and you can't decide what to do. If you ignore him, he will think that you have forgotten all about him (Bad). If you go over and say hi, he will think that you are insincere and trying to cover up your blunder (Worse).

The above example is just one of many. Basically, the CFTDS was during the moment you two looked at each other. If you had said Hi then, no one gets hurt. But if you miss that window of opportunity, it becomes a lose-lose situation.

I was aware of this CFTDS during the reunion dinner, but I couldn't explain it until now. Nowadays, I make sure I do the greeting along with everyone else. But I'm still at a loss of what to do whenever I miss the CFTDS period for other complicated scenarios. Is it all just in my head, or is there some sensible psychological explanation?

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