You gotta make decisions, you gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions.” Mountaineer Joe Simpson from Touching the Void
listen at the 5:00 min mark here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWhmOwGqcMQ
One of the skills I am most proud of possessing is jumping into cold mountain lakes. I never go in slowly. I count to three in my head and splash in without reserve or regret. I love it!! I fear the cold, but the reinvigorating shock it gives me as I plunge through the surface is worth all the trepidation in the world. It is what makes me feel so refreshingly alive. The sun warming my goose-bumped skin afterwards is far warmer and more beautiful than it could have ever been without the glacial waters.
Every time I make decisions I try to remind myself of this attitude. To not go timidly after something, but to plunge in unrestricted and uninhibited- despite the fear and shock of immersion.
But it doesn’t always work that way… and getting to the starting point can be tricky…
I decided to write about decisions because I was having trouble deciding what to write about today- more so than usual. If nothing is so compelling to me that I can do nothing else without having written it, I refer instead to a list of ideas and thoughts that I want to expand on. The first obstacle becomes choosing- now- which of these to write about? Not because none are appealing, but because all are appealing (otherwise they would not have made the list!). Often I simply pick the first or last one on the list to avoid a longer decision process.
Sometimes it seems, especially when all the options are appealing, diving into something with conviction is more important than what it is you are diving in to. But finding that conviction can also be difficult… so often I think the hardest part is starting.
Picking a direction- a path that eliminates all other ones at that moment (though it will undoubtedly open up new ones in the future). How on earth can one forgo all options save one? Somehow we do it, day after day.
When I’m struggling to make a decision I try to ask myself a lot of questions, but even knowing if these questions are worth it is hard. When should you carefully analyze your options? When should you just dive in?
On one hand having a lot of time can trap you in too much thinking… and on the other hand if there are no imminent threats, then taking the time to think things through can be very beneficial. One thing is for sure, you can’t spend forever waiting…”you gotta keep making decisions.”
And then what about looking back on decisions?
“Decisions it is said appear good or bad only in retrospect; at the time what matters is how you evaluate the factors at your disposal.” Peter and Leni Gillman, authors of Georgy Mallory’s biography The Wildest Dream
I think it is important when reflecting on decisions to split your present-consequence- aware-self from your past-unknowing -the- future-doing-the-best-i-can-with-what-is-in-front-of-me-self. Effectively your past self is a different person. Math translation: Past self= Present self- [x amount of experience]. Don’t be so hard on your past self, he or she did not know what you know now. A simple reminder, but one that has proved helpful in moving forward.
Decisions are an everyday phenomenon, but what a bizarre one! And don’t we all struggle with decisions- big and small? If I’ve stopped at Target on the way back from work, should I take Second or Covell- which is more efficient fuel and time wise? Should I eat cookies or cake with my ice cream? To the bigger dilemmas- such as what career path should I pursue? How should I divide my time between pursuing my passions and seeing my loved ones?
I feel like I have a lot more to say on this matter, but I’m deciding to leave it at this for now…
“Sometimes the mind, for reasons we don’t necessarily understand, just decides to go to the store for a quart of milk.”- Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider