As per usual, the Spring has brought with it a lot of decisions to be made. Decisions about how to spend the off-season, where to spend the off-season, which trips to take, friends to visit, TV series to catch up on. And hanging most weightily over our heads, as is also usual, is the decision about where we will spend the next season. The factors are many, the pros meet the cons, the roller coaster ride of emotions shows no signs of slowing. And while this choice might be a bit more weighty than some of the others we face throughout the year, it most certainly pales in comparison to some that we will have to decide on in the future. And so I ask myself, lists, Googling, and calculating aside, how do we make life’s big choices?
I envy those who can pray and hear a reply or read the answer in the chicken bones or trust in the wisdom of the Magic 8 Ball. I think faith and superstition serve greatly the purpose of keeping our heads cool while we ponder. These invisible forces exist in our minds to help us rest assured that a choice WILL be made and that the decision will be the right one. Unfortunately for us, we’ve never been able to trust either faith or superstition enough to receive that calming effect through the deliberation process. Sure, we wish on eyelashes and savor every 11:11 while knocking wood, but I don’t feel confident that any of those activities does much of anything, let alone leading me to the answer I seek. It’s a habit, a comfort that works the same way as putting on your favorite sweater when you’re sad. And the decision is still left undecided.
The time honored tradition of making a lists of Pros and Cons doesn’t seem to help us much either. While the list is often useful and visually pleasing, we’ve never yet made a list that actually contained an answer. Because although a list makes everyone feel more productive, some aspects of a decision just can’t be written down. Intangibles, I think they’re called. And in my nebulous mind and with Dave’s wavering desires, the intangibles are innumerable. Feelings, thoughts, views, proximities, and taste of the water make putting pen to paper near impossible.
What about omens? Good omens, bad omens. You can find them anywhere. In anything. You see a TV show, a billboard, hear a song that mentions the name of someone/something/somplace that relates to your decision. You trip over a stump while thinking of one choice, you find a dollar while thinking of the other. Does this mean something? Everything? Anything at all? For me the possibility that the answer to my question could possibly be, but may not be, found in any object/sound/sight that I cross paths with throughout my day is overwhelming and impossible to live with. The distillation of all that data would render me unable to make a decision. Ever. I picture myself with a calculator and a typewriter and a magnifying glass trying to find the pattern in the omens, and all that work is making me sweat. And I hate sweating for no reason.
And yet here we are, a place we arrived at by making many big and small decisions along the way. Some as recently as this morning, some a decade ago, some on Monday (I should not have eaten all that potato salad). And now that we are again facing choices that could put us somewhere else in a year from now, I ask myself, how did we get here? And the answer is murky, confusing and unclear, just as many answers are. We trust our gut. We weigh the choices. We realize that sometimes our gut is a coward and cannot be trusted. We reweigh the choices, controlling for various variables. And then we sit down, breathe deeply, and do it. Push the button, send the e-mail, make the phone call that decides the something. The relief is sweet yet disconcerting because closing the door on the decision making process opens the window just a crack for doubt, regret, doublethink. But for that moment, that day, that week, let it in, let it out, let it go. And get ready to do it all over again.