Monday, August 26, 2013

delete. edit. undo.


To be, or not to be?

Decisions, decisions. That's what we've been talking about for the past five weeks. Decision making. Fear of making a decision. Fear of not making a decision. Here, its more like, “To do, or not to do?” (“To be, or not to be” is a big decision. BIG. A bit too big to cover here in the blog of an English major not-exactly-professional-counselor.)

To the five questions already covered, I would add this one: 

Is this decision irreversible? 

If I decide to do (or not do) this thing today, does that mean I've committed myself to it forever and ever amen? No chance of reprieve or plea of insanity?

Often, we convince ourselves it is when in fact, it's not. We get ourselves all worked up and terrified to try going in one direction because we're sure we can never change course. We'll be stuck. It's like we don't remember there's an “off” button on the blender as well as an “on.” Once we start the whole dang thing going, we'll get sucked into that mix forever and never be able to extricate ourselves.

OK, if we're continuing with the blender analogy, that may be true—it's tough to put a strawberry in and retrieve it before it's strawberry banana surprise puree. But an analogy only goes so far. Work with me.

In fact, some things in life are irreversible. If you decide to get pregnant and succeed, you're kinda going to have to go through with it. To my knowledge, “control-alt-delete” has no effect there. Likewise, once you decide to say “I do,” you did. If you decide to jump off a cliff into the ocean and partway down think better of it, you'd definitely better still know how to swim.

But those things are big, rare, life-altering things that, by their nature, happen infrequently. (Like, I will never, ever jump off a cliff. It's that infrequent.) Most things can start out one way and then bend down the road a bit when the need arises. Why do we tend to forget that we have control over changing our mind?

Case in point—our trip to Europe. We had planned a detailed itinerary (and by we I mean I, seeing as I am the only one who plans vacations and the other four usually follow like lemmings to their doom). But because of transportation strikes, unavailable trains, and the French being, well, French, things didn't always go as planned. We detoured. We traveled in unexpected manners. We changed course as needed, still focused on the final destination, but the journey took lovely twists and turns we would not have found had we believed our original itinerary decisions to be unchangeable.

Why go to college? I'm just going to change my mind on what I want to do.
Why start writing a book? I may find out I was all wrong half way through.
Why volunteer for this organization? I may not have the time or passion for it later.

Yes, you may. But does that totally negate the part of the journey you already took? Does the fact that we never got to Geneva toss out all that we experienced in Paris and Barcelona?

We refuse to make a decision because we're afraid it may not be the perfect solution forever. Nothing ever is. Everything adapts. But if we fear starting because we may not end where we thought, we'll never get to Paris at all. And what we learn in Paris may have been the whole point. That, and what we'll learn in the detour.

Is this decision irreversible? Probably not. Does that help you to make it? I hope so. Have you had experience in detours? Anything you're facing that you can change? Tell me what you've learned in the way.

2 comments:

Catherine said...

The biggest obstacle for me in making a decision about a commitment is the commitment. I want to be able to back out if this activity or that activity will take too much time.

jill said...

Oh yes--me too! I think it's in the genetic code of anyone under 55.