Sunday Morning ~ Decisions
Khoza lipita ndi mwini dzanja. ~ The ivory bangle goes if the owner of the hand agrees.
~ Chewa proverb
October 15, 2023
I recently made a big decision about a new roof, a huge financial and esthetic consideration. I fretted. I overthought. I collected so much information I got confused. Metal or asphalt? If I go with metal, should it be corrugated or standing seam? What color will complement my house, gray, black, or brown? How will it hold up in wind and snow? Will snow fall off and kill someone? Will a fifty year life span be adequate or should I go with “lifetime”? What does “lifetime” even mean? How should I finance this? I got so much conflicting information I spun in circles for awhile before taking deep breath and committing. Metal. Burnished slate.
I listened to the news and thought, good God, I did not have to consider whether the roof would survive a bombing. Or a wildfire. It was heat efficiency, maintenance, and rot that I lost sleep over. I thought of my children’s inheritance, not their survival.
I thought back to when we built this house and had to make multiple big decisions every day. A couple then, it offered ample opportunity for disagreement. How much of the budget should we use? What will it look like? How long will we have to live with it if we don’t like it? I just wanted it DONE! There were conflicts. We’d anticipated that. We’d heard the maxim “Build a house, lose a spouse!” and were prepared. It was definitely hard on our relationship but we came through with a little professional help (another decision). It made us closer. We were proud of what we’d built. It sheltered our large family so well, so comfortably. We could entertain guests without disruption of the family routine. My ex would often look around and say proudly, “What a ripping little house this is” a line we loved from The Wind and the Willows. We’d laugh. I was happy. I loved the life we’d made. On Sunday nights, we’d get the kids to bed then build a fire and read the paper, swapping sections until we got to the crossword puzzle. I loved Sunday nights. I was sure it would always be that way. We’d made the right decisions.
As life wore on and kids got older, there were more decisions and they got harder. How much leeway to give teenagers? What consequences were appropriate for their poor (and sometimes dangerous) decisions? There was a lot of discussion, disagreement, conflict and compromise. And that was just our little nuclear family: seven people with a common experience and culture.
Decision making can cause some wear and tear. Even small decisions like which movie to watch or what to meal order can cause low level stress. Though wrong decisions in those circumstances can cause disappointment, we can go out to eat another time or watch that other movie later. But what about the irreversible decisions? The ones that can ruin relationships, cause harm, completely change the trajectory of lives?
We all have a personal process of decision making based on our past experience and emotional state. I like to talk it through, out loud, to another person. Using English, my first language, I gather data, consider options, and come out with final decision. I like hearing other perspectives, input, and stories. Then I like to moll it all around and settle it. And since I’m on my own, I can make the decision that works for me. After all, it is my resources, my body, my home, at risk. What an incredible position to be in. What privilege.
So I’m thinking of those who have neither the time nor luxury of mulling over all the possibilities. Those whose safety is in such peril they must make decisions about whether to stay or leave. What to bring? How will they protect their families? Would I decide to flee, knowing I may never be allowed back to my home? I’ve made a life here that I love. I have a community I value and an environment where I feel safe. What if I had to leave my home forever? Would I forsake all my belongings? My few family heirlooms? All the photos that remind me we once had a happy and intact family? Or would I stay, looking at the adornment of my life and decide that is enough. There but for the grace of God go I… a decision I do not have to make.
At this time when I wonder what I can do, I focus on voting for those who know how to make decisions for the common good with empathy for humankind.
Love to all,