It's never too late to be who you might have been.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
On making a decision....
"Oh, General, an indecisive mind is one of the greatest misfortunes that can befall an army, how often have I lamented it this campaign. . . . you have decision, a quality often wanted in minds otherwise valuable."
-Joseph Reed, writing ,not to General Washington, whose aide de camp he was, but to General Lee, the other general in The Revolution
"We are going to DIE!"
-What I'm sure went through General Washington's brain at least five times a day.
I find myself at a crossroads. This is that scary part of my life where I feel like a single wrong turn, any small deviation, will end up in a life I don't want. It all comes down to making smart, informed decisions. Quickly.
It's kind of like George Washington during the American Revolution. While honorable, honest ( a friend of his own conscience, if not cherry trees), appropriately stoic, and intelligent- he was also indecisive. It was important stuff he was dealing with ....the lives of human beings and the fate of a Nation, but again and again the records of his aides de camp, soldiers, friends and even his rivals ( Lee...cough cough) speak of a desire to do anything at all. Surely action, any action, was better than waiting to be annihilated by the most powerful military in the world. As John Adams wrote, when awoken by the sounds of gunfire coming from an assault on Charlestown, not knowing whether the Americans were on the attack or defense, "But in either case, I rejoice, for defeat appears to me preferable to total inaction."
And so here I sit, trying to fight the Revolution of Megan Independence. Not unlike the Continental Congress, we American twenty-somethings continue to declare our independence just when everything is turning sour for us. We're poor, hormonal, often single, or even worse "newlyweds." We have only limited resources. None of our friends have gained enough prestige to make networking effective. We lack confidence and experience. We often lose our battles, and our keys. When we sever ourselves from our strong, established parent-rulers there is no longer a net to catch us when we fall, and this just when one choice in life has the potential to make or break us for the rest of our lives.
But if that net isn't there to catch us, it's also not there to tangle us up, or mark boundaries where we can and cannot climb.
We do have energy. Lots of energy. And while we lack confidence and hope at times, we can, with amazing rapidity, invert it to a near arrogance and sense of invincibility. That's right. All those things you hate about twenty-somethings;the crazy energy, running through the grocery store, dance parties until 3:00 AM, the assertion that we know everything including more than you, the bungy jumping and other activities that illustrate an inability to grasp our own mortality, our almost heartless shuffle through friends and lovers.......all those things you hate, that's all we've got to work with. And we're paying for your social security.
And now it's important that I'm able to act quickly, make decisions and be ready to change direction in a split second. And yet, I'm feeling a little paralyzed. I want to make decisions now, sign that contract, buy that car, say yes to that guy, leave that cognitively dissonant lifestyle, drop that inconvenient person, - even if it's rash, even if it's wrong, because I'd rather be moving forward in any direction than standing still, keeping in mind that my nature is more inclined to dramatic and new movements. And yet now I wait, like George Washington did, and I wait for more intelligence, more confidence in my course. A car, a home, a relationship, a belief, or a person is a lot harder to reverse at a moment's notice, and a wrong decision at this point could, in theory, wipe out the entire Megan-ental Army and the "glorious cause of [personal] liberty." So I'm sitting, sitting on my hands like those kindergartners trying not to eat those marshmallows. I want to sign that contract, buy that car, hit that block button, and take that test. I want it so bad that I'm sweating. I'm sweating because I have to wait a day ( a whole DAY....the cosmos was created in less time!) to look at and figure out if I want to move to one of those apartments in the city, while contracts are going fast in my suburb. And a day of inaction could mean the difference between victory and defeat. And sometimes I have to deal with the fact that sometimes doing nothing, moving forward by staying in the same place, can be the wise decision.