Is it decision time for you?
Are you deciding on whether or not to take that new job, or if you’re going to move to a new city? Are you starting a new course of study in college? Are you getting into or out of a relationship? Are you agonizing over that new car?
Are you, perhaps, voting for someone for President of the United States?
How do you make those decisions? What is your process? What matters to you when you are faced with a choice, a dilemma, a crossroads?
Some people wear little rubber bracelets. They look down at their wrist, think back to those hours in Bible school or Sunday school class or listening to a beloved minister, then ask themselves, “WWJD?” If they can get to a point that the decision is made based on Biblical principles, they’re good to go.
If you’re a writer like me, you have to decide what to write. Sometimes it comes easily. Sometimes it is very hard to get anything to pop up behind that little blinking cursor on the screen. I will readily admit that I have written things that I thought were brilliant that were largely ignored. Humbling, that. I have written things off the cuff in a blur of fingers and keys that were read by hundreds of people, when I thought they were awful. I have written things that were hurtful to readers (some of them family members), painful even. I have learned lessons from those mistakes. I have never hurt anyone intentionally with my writing, but hurt them I did, and some of them continue to let me know about it. (I hear you. I really do.) Whenever you make the decision to write, to put things out there, you also make the decision to expose yourself to praise and embarrassment and ridicule and vitriol.
Of course, the tried and true test is, would I write this and hand it straightaway to my mother and have her read it first? What would she think? My mother does read some of my blog posts (Hi, Mom), and nowadays I do write with her in mind, even though she is not my “first reader” in my own mind. If I wore a rubber bracelet, which I do not, it would most likely have “WWMT” embossed in purple letters.
Do you make decisions based on what your spouse, partner or significant other might think? They are no doubt very important to you, and if you care for them deeply, you care what they think about how you make decisions and do things that affect you both. My soon-to-be-wife and I have had several conversations about partnership, what is and how it plays out in a marriage. We care about each other very much, and we will make decisions that affect both of us, together.
One question that has come up in the news the last week or two asks that if we accept certain things, endorse certain things and make decisions based on those, can we look our children in the eye and explain to them why we did what we did? Wil it make sense? Will it hold water? Will we be embarrassed or proud to teach our children, to be real world examples for them as they watch us move through the landscape that is our wild, wacky world? To be sure, they see what we do, they hear what we say, and they are remarkable imitators.
Are you true to your own values when you are faced with major or important decisions? Do you evaluate things based on the knowledge you have acquired and the experience you have accumulated over the years? Do you follow the lemmings over Norwegian cliffs, do you run with the bulls of Pamplona, or are you a shark, restless and constantly swimming, afraid that if you pause, if you slow down or if you are still, you will surely drown?
Do you make decisions based on how they will ostensibly affect others? Is your sense of altruism the strongest when the time of reckoning comes? Or, do you take the path that is already beaten down with the feet of thousands before you, well marked and easy to traverse all the way to the gates of hell? The road less traveled is sometimes the one that will get you lost, but will teach you the most along the way. And when you arrive at your destination, what a story you have to tell.
I know that we all come to conclusions differently, and that all of these things might go into the way our minds navigate the rocky shoals of indecision. There are many Sirens on Sirenum scopuli out there, but it only takes one gaping hole in our ship to sink us for all eternity.
Oh, and please keep in mind that priorities and motivations change, sometimes profoundly, over time. The decisions one makes at fifteen are most definitely not the ones he or she is likely to make at seventy five.
Lastly, need I remind any of us that the choice not to decide is in itself a decision that may have profound secondary and tertiary consequences not even considered by the poor soul who decides to sit out the hardest minutes of the game.
How do you decide?