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Cacao & Free Will Part 1

Cacao & Free Will Part 1

Hello and good day!

Yesterday, I ran across a married couple I am friends with.

They were sitting out in front of a sandwich shop they visit almost every afternoon when they are in town.During the cold part of the year, they live in Hawaii. When it is warm in Washington state, they come back to town. I hadn't seen them in several months and it was nice to see them back in their old stomping grounds.

They are in their forties. The man is a hulk. Big shoulders. Big arms. Square jaw. He is smart and friendly. His passion is flying helicopters. He mentioned his wife's passion is food.

I walked over to them and sparked up a conversation. "Welcome back! How was Hawaii?" I asked. "Not good," said the man. He took out his phone and showed me a video of waves crashing into the first floor of a two-story house.

"This is the house we were renting," he said. "I was up on the hill behind the house recording this. It happened on our fifth day in town."

"It wasn't the fifth day, it was the eighth day," said the wife. She said it without much importance and continued eating her sandwich, not even looking up to see the impact her comment had made.

The man became serious and stared at his wife. She was oblivious to the staring and continued eating. When she finished biting off a piece of her sandwich, she looked up to find her husband still staring.

"What?" she asked with her mouth full, chewing her sandwich. "It wasn't the eighth day, it was the fifth day, and even if it had been the eighth day, how does correcting me in the middle of my story help?"

For some people, this exchange might have been awkward. But I love this kind of thing. I love to observe typical human behavior like this. As anybody who is married knows, this type of conversation is not uncommon between couples.

"I just wanted to get the facts right so that Adam knows the real story," said the wife. "That fact doesn't change the story any. And it wasn't the eighth day."

Before things went off the rails, I decided to chime in. "May I offer an opinion?" I asked. Without waiting for permission, I went ahead and offered the opinion.

"I think he's right. Eighth day, fifth day, it's probably all the same. It didn't really matter for the story. You probably could have let it slide. But so you know, I do that too. I correct people in the moment without thinking about it. He does it too. We all do it. It isn't anything for us to get all worked up over," I said.

She seemed satisfied. He squinted his eyes at me. He was trying to figure out whose side I was taking. Then he realized I wasn't taking a side and I was trying to keep the peace and he finished his story.

It was a good story. They moved to another place. They had a huge conflict with the landlord who didn't want to refund their rent. It was cloudy in Hawaii and unseasonably hot in Washington while they were away.Nothing turned out as they'd planned, but on the whole, they were in good cheer.

When the story was over, the wife offered a comment.

"I do that all the time you know. I can feel myself doing it. I try to stop myself. The words are coming out of my mouth, and I try to pull them back in, but they get away from me. The eighth day. I knew when I said it that I was interrupting the story, and that it really didn't matter. I tried to look down at my sandwich, hoping the moment would pass," she said.

That was a refreshing bit of honesty. "All of us do it," I said. "It is natural. We just want the facts to be right."

"It's because there is no such thing as free will," said the husband. He looked straight at me with his intelligent eyes and his square jaw.

"How do you mean?" I asked.

"What we are going to do is decided by chemical reactions in our brain 5 or 6 seconds before we actually do it. Nobody decides anything in the moment," he said.

"Where'd you hear that?" I asked.

"There is a wide body of research on this. I've read books and watched a lot of presentations about it," he said. "He's right," said the wife. "I've read the books too."

"That feels wrong," I said.

"I know it feels wrong. But the research is what it is. There is no such thing as free will," said the man.

"I haven't read the books that you've read. But I have read some books on the topic. It just doesn't make any sense. How can we not have free will?" I asked.

"You need to look into it," he said.

I stood there in silence with a concerned look on my face. They were sitting at a black metal outdoor table eating their sandwiches underneath an umbrella and smiling at each other lovingly. At least they were back on the same side now.

I was carrying a sign that read "Soft Serve Now At Fortunato Chocolate". "What about this sign?" I asked. "I could throw it on the ground right now, couldn't I?"

"Whether you do or don't has already been decided," he said. His eyes were twinkling now. He was having a good time. I could tell that he'd run this routine before. I wasn't the first person to fall into this trap.

"I believe that there must be a flaw in this line of reasoning. I haven't done the research that you've done, so I can't express myself the way I'd like to. You are more prepared than I am. But what you are saying is so incredibly counterintuitive that the research would have to be overwhelming for me to believe it. I know how smart and reasonable you are, so please don't take my disagreement to mean that I don't respect you. But until I do the research, I must disagree with that point of view," I said.

"That's fine. We'll talk about it after you look into it," he said. I could see that he was feeling very confident.

"We're all still friends?" I asked. "Of course," said the wife. "I love to debate," said the man.

"I do too," said I.

"Then we'll debate it soon," said the man.

I nodded and walked away with my sign to continue promoting the shop and the soft serve. I have begun to research the topic and I have attempted to reason my way through it as well.

It seems to me that the answer can be found in analyzing chocolate, cacao, and our experience working with Peruvian cacao farmers for going on 15 years.

But I am out of space for today. More to come tomorrow.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!