The Supreme Tradeoff
The tradeoff that exceeds all others in gravity, at least that I have thought of, is that between love and loss. Basically it comes down to this: the deeper we love the more devastating the loss when that love ascends from the earth. And all love ascends, it's just a matter of when.
I have felt the trap of that tradeoff in a bigger way than I ever have when our son was born. The love that you can carry for a child is unique, even relative to a spouse, parent, or friend, I've found. Even only seeing our son sick with a nasty cold (like he was last week) is heartbreaking, which means anything worse would be a worse fate than heartbreaking. But this is the tradeoff we cannot avoid if we love. If we want to feel love deeply, we must also feel loss deeply.
Perhaps this is why it's so hard to let ourselves love deeply - we know devastating loss is part of the deal. And that loss feels like the end of the world when it happens, a fate that makes you question what could possibly be worse. I'm pretty sure I've avoided deep, deep love at times in my life and I wonder if this is why - even though I wasn't explicitly aware of the tradeoff between love and loss.
As a good student of business strategy, though, I know that it is possible to break tradeoffs. In business that's often done through technology, creativity, and innovation. But the difference between this, the supremest of tradeoffs, and say price vs. quality is that half of this tradeoff can't be broken.
Loss is unavoidable. At some point I will die and so will you who is reading this. Everyone you and I love deeply will die. No technology or innovation can cheat death and I think it's foolish to believe otherwise. And that's if we're lucky. Our love may ascend sooner than death if we squander it recklessly sooner, because of an argument, misunderstanding, or act of selfishness.
I suppose it's possible to close ourselves off to love and avoid the tradeoff all together. If we love less, the less we lose. But I think of love as i think of the sun. Though it will eventually burn, living a life in it's shade is no life at all. So to me, avoiding love to avoid loss is not an option at all.
Which leaves only one way forward. We must love more, love longer, and love more fiercely. If we can't innovate our way out of loss, all we can do is make the love that comes with it deeper and sweeter.