Regarding Decisions

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Decisions are like coffee: they come in a variety of sizes, are frequently encountered at crossroads, and are as bitter or sweet as you make them. Like coffee, decisions can be recognized by their side-effects. Do you feel nervous? Manic? Like you’re just moments away from needing the rest room? Chances are, you’re either faced with making a choice or have just finished choosing.

Decisions can sneak up on you. Sometimes they creep in on the cat’s paws of inevitable, almost unnoticeable change. Sometimes they rush at you, crashing down like the piece of plane in Donnie Darko. You might be tempted to think you can outsmart a decision. You can’t, though, because even refusing to make a decision is in itself a decision. Unlike coffee, you can’t quit decisions.

Sometimes, you make a decision that you need to reverse later; this can come with a helping of humility, because you may be forced to admit you were wrong. Occasionally, you make a decision that cannot be reversed and you regret it. To have or not to have children. To put your money in a speculative stock or not to put your money there. To act out of love or to act out of self-interest.

The really hard decisions come with consequences. This goes at least double, if not triple, for decisions regarding your immortal soul or karma. Most decisions aren’t really that big, not in a cosmic sense, but they could have financial repercussions. As a species, we spend a lot of time deciding things based upon money. How much will that decision make me? How much will this other decision cost me? Should I get a tank of gas to get to work or food to feed my family?

Styron depicts the darkest of decisions in Sophie’s Choice by forcing his character into a situation where she must choose which of her two children will live. One could argue Sophie’s dilemma wasn’t really a decision. It was a torture tactic disguised as a decision. A true decision, the argument goes, will always have Option C: do nothing and let things play out without you ever making a move one way or the other. Semantics couldn’t help Sophie, and certainly didn’t spare her the agony of deciding. Most decisions aren’t that vast, that awful, or that cruel. Thankfully.

Framed this way, I feel that decisions aren’t at all like coffee. To be that blithe and brash would be to act as if there were no true darkness. There is darkness, though, and we are continually faced with choices that could plunge us farther into the dark, or lead us from it.

No, decisions aren’t like coffee. They are like rope. We can use them to hang ourselves or we can use them to pull ourselves to freedom.

Sometimes monstrous people will use that rope to harm you.

How, then, can we make decisions? Excluding the insurmountable and horrific category of decision à la Sophie’s Choice, how do we pick amongst our options? The danger of analysis paralysis, or spending too much time thinking about the pros and cons of any choice, can set in and force you into Option C. The danger of jumping in unprepared is often the road to regret. The most that you can do is make the best choice you can with the information you have at the time. Get your facts, vibes, or Tarot cards and then -right or wrong – make your decision. Don’t wait for one to be made for you unless you’re comfortable with relinquishing ownership of your life.

People might try to waylay you, for various reasons and often out of a sense of helping you. The important thing is to apply your core values and principles to your decision; if you do that, then you will be confident you are choosing what is right for you and your situation. For me, when I make a decision, there are only two essential items I Must Always Consider. First, I think of my marriage and how my decision will impact Mr. Aniko. Second, I think of how the decision will impact my writing. Other factors are relevant and considered, but they are secondary. If a choice will negatively impact either my marriage or my writing, I make a different choice. It’s really quite simple. Except, of course, when the decision is going to be good for my marriage and bad for my writing or vice versa. Luckily, though, each is mutually supportive of the other. I am happier and less anxious when I write, which is good for my marriage. I write better when I’ve been able to spend quality time with Mr. Aniko, which is good for my writing. It’s true,  I take my coffee with milk and honey.

What about you? What informs your decisions? Who throws you a lifeline when you’re stuck?

 

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10 thoughts on “Regarding Decisions

  1. A very good blog. I understand how writing can calm your soul and make you a happier person. Quilting does the same for me. If I can create, I am a very contented person. Keep writing!! And I will keep quilting.

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    • Not only does writing calm my soul, it makes me feel as though I have a definite purpose in life. It is a lot easier to make decisions when you have an absolute, nearly spiritual reason and drive. I will keep writing, you’ll keep quilting, and the world will benefit from our harmony.

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  2. I chuckled at your response to Nick’s comment. However, I think your refusal to stick with one metaphor gives this more of a “stream of consciousness” type feel. Yeah, that’s it 🙂

    I hate that so many of my decisions have to be motivated by money. Makes me crazy. Ahh, to be making a fortune off my writing. Not yet, though, which brings me to the second concern. While I have a very supportive wife, I don’t necessarily think that means that all decisions with which I am faced are good for both my marriage and my writing. Just have to hope we can be honest enough with one another when these types of decisions come up.

    Anyway, hope all is well.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

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    • Sorry for the delay in replying to your comment, Paul. The tail-end of this week was a blur of one really crazy thing following another even more bizarre thing. I did not sit down at my Writer’s Desk for two days, which means I haven’t kept up with blog, tribe, or writing.

      In keeping with the theme of the post, my investment in other areas of my life was a conscious decision. I’m glad to get back to regulary scheduled events, because blogging, reading, and writing are so much more my comfort zone and joy. Still, I suspect those two days have given me lots of raw material for future books. One person even said, “If I don’t see something like this in your next book, I’m going to be really disappointed! This is the perfect set-up for a horror novel!” And yes, it was that weird!

      Rambling, rambling…

      You are absolutely right. Not every decision that supports marriage also supports writing. I am certain that if I weren’t married, I would probably live in some seedy one-room, live on peanut butter, and write a lot more. I wouldn’t have bought a house, I am sure of that. Marriage brings a lot of shared responsibility – and while I know that Mr. Aniko would support me in the financial sense, I won’t put that strain only on him. He has dreams, too, and they aren’t all tied to Work. There is a balance that has to be struck. And there is something wonderful about work, too, in the sense that if you are mindful, you can be conscious of the fact you are building something with your team. Sure, it might not be something you would personally have set out to build. But making, creating, sharing are so very human and it feels good to do that in a tribal setting. Which is all my way of saying that every day is an opportunity to make a different decision. Realizing that we have decided to balance writing with marriage empowers us to make tough decisions and constantly refine the balance.

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  3. I’m with you–writing makes me feel I belong to something bigger.
    Loved this post 🙂
    Something touched me–you said you think about how your decisions will affect Mr. Aniko. Simple–but so important 🙂 It must be very, very nice to have someone you care for that much. That is what life is all about, right?

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    • Penelope, hi! Sorry for my delay in responding to your comment; I’m normally much more punctual, I promise. It’s been beyond insane here, but that’s just grist for the story mill. 🙂

      It is nice to have someone to care about and put equal to all of my own concerns. It was not easy to get to the point where I was able to do that, though. Mr. Aniko and I have been together since we were in our early 20s, and there was a chunk of time where I didn’t understand that balance and harmony don’t just come with marriage, they have to be continually worked for and refined. We stuck it out – at some points just barely – but it’s worth it now. There is absolutely something to be said for aging and for growing into a truly self-aware person.

      Decisions are our power, and I think they define who we are – but creating is what connects us to something bigger. I’m glad we’re both writers. And really glad that I met you!

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