Making a decision is not in my tool box of strong skills. Even Stop & Shop is overwhelming. They finally have a good gluten-free aisle, but now check out all the pastas I can try…quinoa, corn, rice, rice and soy, corn and quinoa…
Years ago my husband and I were divided on what to plant along our back fence to replace aging bushes that provided privacy except when it rained and they sagged or it snowed and the snow sat on their limbs which bowed in every direction and acted as accommodating horizontal benches or it was sunny and you could see in between them. Each year I said forsythia and he said arborvitae. Another year would pass. The aging bushes got taken out. Another year passed. I found euonymous. Lovely green glossy leaves. Bushy eventually. Provides cover eventually. Three years later they’ve grown quite nicely. They do not provide full coverage quite yet. Still, they have filled out, they are tall, they have glossy leaves. They’re pretty.
But they are not forsythia and they are not arborvitae. They are a compromise. Neither one of us got what we wanted, but we did make a decision. So I’m not sure I like them. I can still see forsythia.
And that’s the problem with decisions. You don’t always make the right choice, but you don’t know that until later. And there isn’t a later if you don’t make a choice to begin with. Or rather there is a later, but one that resulted from not making a decision.
I heard a story once about a woman who was pregnant and couldn’t decide which doctor she wanted to use for her delivery. She was between two doctors (like Stevens’ of “two minds”) and pregnancy’s finale doesn’t wait so her due date got closer and closer. Eventually she went into labor and ended up at a clinic. Decision made.
Not clearing a pile of stuff is a way to delay a decision. It’s very easy to clear a pile if you see that this go here and that goes there and this gets thrown away and that gets donated and everything is now in its neat little home and everything is put away and in its place. I always liked that idea(l): a place for everything and everything in its place. It sounds nice. It is nice. But it’s a kind of fiction. A kind of control over things that maybe can be controlled. When I look at a pile, I know I’m looking at decisions. Does this go out? Does this get filed? Don’t I have that kind of file started? That pile is a pile of decisions that may be easy or may be hard but decisions nonetheless and decisions, well, I don’t like them.
Here’s the thing with decisions. In a sense, they are control: I have made a choice, I am in control, I will move forward and not back. I accept this choice I have made and now the consequence. And from that consequence, other choices and decisions to be made. Move forward. Move forward.
Having piles is a way of not doing that. Not making a decision is a way of not doing that. And that’s okay too. Except it’s not really. Because it’s a delay and a delay means stuck like stuck in traffic and you can’t see around that truck or around that corner. And what is there if these cars get out of the way??
What is it about decisions? For me it’s making the “right” choice. Intellectually, I know there is no right, but there are so many options! And each one a different consequence! Remember the books with the choices you could make at every chapter and the choice you made got you to the next scene and subsequent choice until you got to the end? I loved to hate those books. I, of course, would always go back and try out the other options. But the best part is: I always ended up safe. I never went off the cliff, I never fell to my death, I never took the scary choices.
Ok, deciding between forsythia and arborvitae or between quinoa or corn pasta is not that life-threatening or risky. But the point is you have to make a choice. You have to say this is it. I mean I can’t imagine picking Bachelor number 1 from behind a wall! Oh darn, I knew I should have picked 3!!
And the thing with decisions is they move you forward. You have to accept. You have to move on. Or you can have regrets, which I am very good at. Witness forsythia.
Yet what I am realizing is not making decisions is not fun. What I decide may not be right or good or perfect. What I decide will have its drawbacks. But deciding is a muscle, like any other, that I have to flex and use and strengthen. The more decisions I make and avoid delaying the better I get at it. And the stronger I become. Even if I don’t like the consequence. At that’s what I want to see when the traffic clears.