I walked into my favorite local coffee shop today, armed with my laptop and several various notebooks, and noticed these two jars on the counter:

Faced with this “choose one or the other” question, I’m intrigued. My eager gears begin to turn. I recognize the ideological paradigm that underlies the question, and all the psycho-social implications begin to dance around my mind as I happily consider this new puzzle. Relative to my own immediate wants, which do not particularly favor cake over world peace at the moment (though I’m here in this place at all, at least in part, for my favorite muffin), I understand that why I want something matters more than the particulars of what I want.

Of course if you have two or more bills, you could choose both. But just now I have exactly one dollar in my wallet. So I have to choose one jar or the other. I gave my other dollar yesterday to a woman outside my favorite local grocery store, passionately playing cello in her bare feet.
So, which one will I choose now and why will I choose it? “World peace” is my first reaction, as I read the labeled jars from my position near the front door, third in line.
But I’m also a libra and can’t pass up an opportunity to weigh the options as a matter of irresistible inborn impulse. And, a few people away from the counter, there’s time to consider. The little exercise is meant to spark play and thoughtfulness—which in turn is more likely to generate more tips. There’s no shame, only justice, in that! I mean, I pulled my only dollar from my wallet to participate, all for the sake of the fun. I appreciate this community-spirited addition to the cafe’s ambience.

I’m not exaggerating at all when I say making this little decision was actually, genuinely, very fun for me.

I deliberate, knowing I will quickly move closer, one person and a time, needing to have made up my mind and settle on a choice. So I dive headlong into the waves of why.
There are endless angles from which to view the question: one choice might be considered investing in a long term goal, the other about frittering energy away on immediate gratification. One could be about hope and care and dedication, the other about giving less fucks—and you could also reverse the two; not giving fucks about cake versus a dedication to your own personal satisfaction and the belief that enjoying yourself matters: both caring and not giving fucks are virtuous, as long as you’re liberal-minded.
(I live in a very liberal area of Northern California)
And since this is very likely a liberally-slanted exercise, your answer could also be a virtuosity indictment: do you believe in world peace, or do you think that’s all about bleeding-heart bull-crap and just want to guarantee your share of the cake? Are you earnest or frivolous? Are you considerate or self-serving? Are you willing to put something you want aside in the name of a greater good?
Are you focused or are you overwhelmed into denial-motivated emotional numbing? Both are entirely understandable in our historical moment and they are not mutually exclusive—I understand that last one is a trick question.
They are all trick questions, really.

The habitually-entrained social machinations at work in my own mind amuse me even as my spiritual sensibility is increasingly engaged. On the heels of the poem I composed and uploaded yesterday, this little synchronicity suggests that universal forces and collective, non-physical streams of consciousness are also having fun with me.
They know I like a simple, satisfying, logical puzzle and are happy to oblige as often as I can pay attention.

There’s a ten dollar bill prominently displayed in the “world peace” jar, suggesting that the worth, the value, is weighted in that direction. So, of course it matters. Peace is worth a lot. It’s lasting, self-sustaining, eternal— whereas cake and whatever it has to offer is quickly lost in the flow of time. The imbalance between the two quickly spurs my judgement reflex back into play.

Spiritually speaking, there is of course no “right” answer.

And yet, there is. That’s the fun, the satisfaction of the puzzle: finding the justice, the win-win, the true power of choice in an “either/or” (sacrificial) situation.
This all takes far longer to transcribe into words than it takes to think/feel it out (I am, after all, a libra). I’m still two people away from the register by the time I arrive at my conclusion and stand there grinning: I can’t wait to put my dollar in the “right” jar.

I order my drink (and my muffin), and put my dollar in the “piece of cake” jar. I say to the barista, “when life is a piece of cake, when we all feel easy, we will have world peace.” She smiles in response and the barista behind the espresso machine looks over and says, with enthusiasm, “Yes! Now that is what I’m sayin’!”
World peace is a piece of cake. It won’t happen any other way. The longer we belabor it, the further we delay it.

So put your right hand in, take your right hand out—don’t forget your left hand or your legs, or to shake yourself about—all of you, always, as much of the time as you can.
Play the game of life. That’s what it’s all about.
In short, have your cake and eat it, too.