Sometimes we have to start walking
to find out where we are headed.
Eat the big one first. As a rule for life, this had served my two and a half year old son well so far, but now he was stumped. In each chubby hand he held a perfect vanilla wafer. Looking at the mirror-image cookies, his mental motor stalled. What to do? He prepared to bite the right hand cookie, but then the other caught his eye. He brought his left hand up, then moved it away to take another look. Finally he set both cookies down and frowned.
I recognized the frustration. How does one decide between two good choices? Or two bad ones? The time I’ve spent frozen into immobility by the need to choose must surely measure in years by now. Lacking the ability to see far enough down either path for comfort, I fear to move ahead. How to break the stalemate?
Some years ago, I had to choose between two jobs. One was in science, the field I’d trained to enter only five years before. It was prestigious, in Boston. It meant working with a great team, people I knew and respected. The other was in my home town. It was in teaching, a field in which I had ten years experience. Although not a lucrative position, it offered important intangible rewards—a chance to touch lives. How would I ever decide?
I asked the advice of friends. I made lists of the pros and cons for each position. I went to Boston and visited the laboratory there. I talked to teachers at the school in town. Logic seemed to favor moving East, but the scales were closely balanced. I just wasn’t sure.
After weeks of deliberation, I decided it was time to choose. There would be no more fooling around, even if it meant flipping a coin. I would decide tonight. My teenage son left to spend the night with his friend David. Alone, I deliberated, pondered, prayed. Finally I decided to move East. Opportunities for the future seemed better there. Not elated, but at peace, I got ready for bed. Then the phone rang. It was David’s parents. Could my son go to Giddings, Texas with them? They’d have him back in three or four days.
No problem! I hung up anticipating a few quiet days. I had no worries, no concerns. But move to Boston? No way! What had I been thinking? Thirteen year olds needed friends, and I needed those friends to have parents that I’d known for years and could trust absolutely. Suddenly my choice was clear.
I failed to value my home town ties accurately until I had decided to give them up. I didn’t recognize the disadvantages of moving away until I had embraced the advantages it would bring. Sometimes, you just don’t see clearly until you make a choice.
I should have remembered. That was how my son had solved the cookie dilemma. He chose one and took a bite. Then he put it down, reassessed the situation, and ate the big one first.
What decision dilemmas do you face?
How do you make up your mind?
Until next time…