After another exhausting day working in the Philippines in the weeks after Typhoon Yolanda hit, a few of us were sitting around trying not to talk about work. The conversation turned to upcoming vacation plans and when it was my turn I said, “I have no idea. There are too many choices and I don’t have the capacity to make that decision right now.”
Donald was walking by at that precise moment and overhead the exchange. He stopped before our group and said, “You should go to Cassis, France. It’s beautiful there.” And just like that, I felt lighter and stronger because there was one less decision to make in life and I had a direction. I then informed the group that I would be going to Cassis, France on my next vacation.
We make an incredible number of decisions throughout the day. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, we navigate thousands of decision points: which route to take and how fast to go, have another or go home, do what you love or what you should, stop the faucet from dripping or ignore it. Ranging from the deceptively simple to the outright complex, inherent in all decision points is the power to alter life.
This is what fatigues me about making decisions: the knowledge that I am where I am because of the decisions I make. It can be overwhelming and it is why, given the right situation, I allow random circumstances or passing comments to decide on my behalf. In life, my role is to establish big picture stuff; so as long as the vacation allows for something new along with a lot of rest and relaxation, it didn’t matter where I went. I imagine this is what leaps of faith feel like: trusting that the winds will take you where you need to be.
Cassis was delightful. Life moved slowly and nothing more than blue waters, blue skies, deep canyons, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and a small market vied for my attention. I can still feel the magic of those winds carrying me to that exact right moment in time. Recalling the sensation of that magic, in 2015, I decided to spend the year making as few decisions as possible. It has proven to be a delicious indulgence that I wish for all.
Recently however, in the midst of this time of no decisions, I found myself in the position of having to make a deliberate and intentional decision. The choice before me was to either follow fear or follow heart. Following fear would provide stability and a chance to settle. Following heart would lead me towards continued uncertainty and unknown challenges.
Having not made a life-critical decision in some time, I found the once familiar act of making a decision to be awkward and uncomfortable. I stumbled, adjusted, and hoped someone would walk by with a random comment. When it was too much, I asked the wise around me to make the decision for me but they knew it was mine to make. The only one to suggest a path was my four-year old niece. “Ma belle,” I asked her on the phone, “What do you think? Take the job or travel?” She contemplated the options saying “Ummmm…” in that special way four-year olds do and then yelled with conviction, “Travel!” I heard her giggle as she handed the phone back to her father and skip back to the activity she had put on hold in order to share her wisdom. The others, also wise in their ways, stayed close by, shined light on the dark places and offered encouragement.
Thankfully, making decisions is like dancing. Once we learn how, we never forget. After much reflection and clarifying what are the most important things, I made the choice to follow my heart. It makes me smile to know that my deliberate decision coincides with the wisdom my niece offered.
With this refreshed perspective on decision-making, I go forward into the unknown. I also fully understand that there are times when we can take leaps of faith and leave the decision to others, trusting the ways of the wind. There are other times when we must take a different kind of leap and make our own difficult decisions and then move forward, into the winds of commitment and focus.