How Are You Supposed to Make Decisions?
My favorite movie scene is this one, in which Robin Williams plays a refugee from the Soviet Union, overwhelmed by the amount of coffee choices in an American supermarket. My other favorite movie scene is this one, in which Donald Sutherland plays an art dealer mesmerized by the artwork in his kid’s second-grade class. When he asks the teacher how she transforms her students into little Matisses, she simply says that she knows when to take their drawings away from them.
I’ve been thinking about both scenes lately, because suddenly it occurs to me that I don’t know how to make a decision. I don’t know the process, the proper steps to take, to arrive at a decision. How are you supposed to decide things?
There are decisions I make every day, like what to eat, when to get up, what to wear, when to go to sleep, what to read, what to watch, what part of the house to clean, if at all, how far to walk Fish, but these aren’t really decisions at all. They are just quick reactive choices based on how exhausted I am.
If I’m at peak exhaustion, I’ll order in food and dig myself into more credit card debt. If I have a sparkle of energy, I might dump some store-bought tomato soup into a saucepan, congratulating myself on my frugality. But again, these aren’t decisions. This is just me being a ping pong ball on the ocean, bopping around on the waves.
I’ve been riding these currents for so long, I don’t know how to decide things anymore, assuming I ever did. One of the easier decisions I made recently was to get my nails done every two weeks. It keeps me human, and feminine, and I’ve become friends with the nail tech, Helen, who I assume will check on me if I don’t make the appointment, in case I’ve died choking on a frozen grape.
But choosing a nail polish color is agony. I can never decide who I want to be for the next two weeks, who Future Me wants to be. Do I want to be the girl with dark, gothy nails, elegant in a witchy way but also kinda trashy? Or do I want boring, inoffensive light pink nails, to broadcast that I am clean and fresh and shower more than I do? Heroin chic or country club? And what makes Present Me think she has any idea what Future Me might want?