Friday, February 20, 2009

Decisions, Decisions...

Years ago, I read a riddle on the last page of Reader's Digest. It went something like, "There were seven frogs on a log. Five of them decided to jump off. How many frogs were left on the log?"

Two, right?

Son-Three, who was seven or eight at the time, piped up, "Seven!" without even a second's hesitation, which was of course the right answer because, as the punchline helpfully pointed out, "Deciding and doing are two different things."

I've been thinking a lot about those frogs lately. The fact that Son-Three got it--at seven or eight and so quickly!--while I failed to get it at all at thirty-something was probably an indication of more than just my slow-wittedness. The fact is deciding and I have a decidedly dysfunctional relationship.

On the one hand, I will spend absurd amounts of time agonizing over seemingly trivial decisions--seriously, I've spent more than an hour picking out a birthday card on more than one occasion. Hubby has practically had to physically drag me out of the pen aisle at Wal-Mart when the choices--blue, black, ballpoint, gel, clicker or cap--have overwhelmed me. On the other hand, I will often make much more serious decisions--say getting married or naming one of my children after a high-end sports car--with much less agony and forethought.

Further complicating matters, the degree of agony involved in making a decision is no indicator whatsoever of the likelihood that I will actually follow-through with said decision. In other words, as fraught as my relationship with deciding may be, my relationship with doing is much more so. Deciding and I should maybe someday be in couples counseling. Doing and me? Well, it's straight to the Jerry Springer Show for us.

For instance, I have decided a number of times (a very high number) to go back to school. I have decided to look up information. I have decided on courses of study. I have decided to fill out the applications and financial aid forms. Of all the times I have made these decisions--sometimes it seems I've made them on a daily basis--I have made it three-quarters of the way through the applicaton process exactly one time before being distracted by the facts of my life and by the very convincing whining of my little chickenshit brain.

This is one frog who's very tired of sitting on the log. Tired of deciding over and over again to jump off. This frog has gotten tough with herself, putting her foot down--this time I'm serious!--and she's tired of that too.

This time, she's not deciding a single damn thing. She's doing.


  1. Youngest Sister2/26/09, 11:22 AM

    It's like the "mom" essay you wrote years ago--life is as much about the decisions you don't make (or avoid making) as the ones you do. It's kind of strange that way.

  2. Read this quote last week in an old issue of Esquire:

    "It's scary once you start to scrutinize it. Probably 90 percent of our life decisions are powered by the twin engines of inertia and laziness."

    --A.J. Jacobs, "The Rationality Project"

    I think my own personal percentage may even be a little higher than that. ;o) And any remaining decisions are probably greatly influenced by FEAR, my favorite four-letter F-word.