In the morning, I have taken to listening to podcasts whilst I do my morning stretching. In general, I find podcasts frustrating - by and large they are too slow and I just would rather read, and absorb the information more quickly. But since I can't read and stretch at the same time, I listen.
This morning, I was listening to a TED program. Usually I can't stand the TED talks, even the abridged "radio hour" version. The people talking are way too smug and sure of themselves. It's even a bit, as my Brit friends would say, Twee.
But this one, about making decisions, had some insight that I appreciated (thank you, my dear friend. Denise for suggesting this). The woman was Ruth Chang, a philosopher, talking about: How Can Making Hard Choices Empower Us?
I took away two core messages from this excerpt of her talk. Firstly, separate the concept of "hard decisions" from "important decisions". Decisions are hard to make because the resolution is not obvious, that doesn't mean they are worthy of great swathes of your attention. It may feel that making a choice is difficult, because you don't know enough, about your desires or about the outcomes, to make it. But, it is not worth losing sleep over what to have for breakfast.
Secondly, embrace the hard decisions, the ones that are not about what to have for breakfast. They are a chance to decide, but also a chance to make yourself into who you are. The decision gives you the chance to chose who you are going to be. Agency, she calls it. It is a chance to commit (her word) to who you are going to be, a chance to determine your path.
Embrace the difficulty. Usually we who like to embrace difficulty, or embrace the concept of embracing difficulty, embrace the difficulty of doing something. We want to climb the physical or intellectual mountain. It's part of the reason we are scientists. But the difficulty of deciding is, at least for me, harder to do. It's triggered a whole range of thoughts, some of which are part of the path through the end of my life. So this is just part 1. Parts 2 through n, to follow.