17 July 2014

39 – Choosing to Choose Less

Two things happened on Saturday morning that inspired this essay. First, I went into town for groceries. Second, I learned that Lebron James decided to take his talents back home.

Those two things got me thinking about decisions. Big ones, small ones, and ones that don’t matter. So I decided to write an essay about that.

I love going to the supermarket. Food is one of the few things I like spending money on. Not much else compels me to pull out my wallet.

However I usually spend no more than twenty-five minutes in the supermarket. I know this because once I step off the bus I have thirty minutes until my bus home arrives at the terminal. And the only time I ever miss that bus is when I visit the nearby pharmacy to buy a new bus pass. They call that a paradox.  

While I like buying food, I don’t like spending a lot of time in the supermarket. I know what food I need and want. So I ignore approximately 95% of the shelves, coolers, and endcaps.

I keep my trips to the supermarket brief on purpose. I’m not paranoid about missing my bus. It comes by every thirty minutes anyways.

I keep trips to the supermarket brief because I don’t want to spend half my Saturday morning weighing the pros and cons of apples versus oranges. I’d prefer to spend that time writing, exercising, or eating said food.

I don’t want to spend all my time choosing. So I consciously choose to choose less.

We make decisions every day. Lots of them. It starts as soon as we wake up. Do I hit the snooze button and stay in the sleep-bunker for 10 more minutes?  Should I wear underwear today? Should I go commando? Should I even be considering this? Eggs for breakfast? Do I even want breakfast? That’s at least three decisions in the first couple of minutes after opening your eyes.

Now think about prorating that over the next 14 to 18 hours you’ll probably be awake. I’m not doing the math. Grab your own calculator. See? Decision, right there.

The point is we spend more time making decisions in our day-to-day lives than we’d like to believe. We probably spend more time choosing in our lifetimes than we’d ever wish to know.

At a certain level, we have no choice. Decisions are a part of waking up and being in life.

Some decisions require lots of serious thought. Most of us will never buy a house or a car or return to the Cleveland Cavaliers without thinking hard on the matter. I spent more than a few minutes thinking before deciding to quit an unsatisfying career and end a toxic relationship. You probably have to. These are the kinds of things you want to think through.

Other decisions shouldn’t take more than a few moments. Like trying to choose something to watch on Netflix. I confess to having given up from exhaustion after browsing titles for an hour. Anyone else? Show of hands?

There are countless examples, but I’m not exhausting myself by spending another hour thinking them through. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about.

We can’t avoid making decisions. But we can choose where to invest much of our decision-making time. But that’s a choice only you can make. Choose wisely. 

Sometimes that voice telling you to make up your fucking mind already has a point. Don’t waste your time and energy making choices that don’t matter. Save them for the important things that’ll require your full attention and effort. 

Probably wishes he'd brought Q-Tips to the game right now.

Choosing to simplify your life goes a great length toward helping the cause. Choosing to choose less may help you win back some of your precious and limited time. But I’ll say more on that subject in a later essay.

Last year I wrote that it’s not about making the right decision. Rather, it’s about making the most of the decisions you do make. I’d add that it’s also about picking the right decisions to make.

And on that note, I choose to stop and get some sleep. I’m taking my talents to bed.

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The House Newf is from a rugged and beautiful island on the eastern edge of Canada called Newfoundland. He was first identified by a potter with a naturalist's flair, and he does in fact live in a house under the watchful eye of a cat that seems bewildered by the universe at large. That house is in Halifax, Nova Scotia and that's where the House Newf writes fiction and essays on things that add value to his life that may add some value to yours. You can contact him at bobharding80@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter @theHouseNewf, on Instagram @thehousenewf, and like him on Facebook. The House Newf is a unique specimen. Every home should have one.