Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where's a magic 8 ball when you need one?

When faced with indecision, some people toss a coin, some go eeny-meeny-miny-moe, others just go with the perceived lesser evil. I know someone who texts people "Yes or No?" with no explanation whatsoever, then tallies the responses to determine her course of action. Years ago, my best friend gave me "The Book of Answers": you're supposed to hold it in your hands as you form a question in your mind, then you open the book to a page and get your answer, which could be anything from the direct ("No.") to the vague ("Seek out more options.") to the obscure ("The answer may come to you in another language.") to the unfair ("Ask your mother."). Needless to say, I haven't really relied on it to make any potentially life-altering decisions.

In times of doubt, I turn to my usual confidantes and counselors (Raqs, Angge, Sir Tirol, and my shrink Maddy, among others). These are people whose judgment I trust implicitly, not only because I respect them to the highest degree, but also because I know they genuinely care for me and won't advise me to do anything against my best interests. But there are times when they give conflicting or varying points of view, and then I'm left to process everything and ultimately make the final call myself. Which I really hate doing.

I was raised a "good girl". Raqs and I have this running joke that obedience is one of my worst negative qualities. While I'm by no means a pushover, and I actually dislike being told what to do, I tend to be pretty good about following rules and instructions. This may sound like a positive attribute, but not when it comes to choosing a course of action for myself where the path is not laid out clearly for me. I like having direction. I like knowing I'm going down the right road. When you take away the sign posts and the needle of my compass is spinning around like crazy, I freak out.

I admit part of it is cowardice. Sometimes I know full well the right thing to do, but I just don't have the balls to do it, or own up to the responsibility or face the consequences afterward. And part of it is weakness, when I am tempted to take the wrong but easier (and/or more enjoyable) route. And yet another part is plain old stupidity, as I find myself walking down the wrong road, then midway realize I don't like where I'm headed, and try to double back. But more often than not, I'm level-headed enough to discern right from wrong, proper from improper, fair from unfair. I don't really need someone to dictate the rules to me, or read to me from an etiquette book, or lecture me on morality. But occasionally I do need someone to reaffirm what I know in my head, heart and gut to be the right thing to do... and to give me a gentle nudge (or urgent shove, if needed) down the right path.

That being said, there are still some decisions I really don't want to make. I think I'm going to have to dig out my Book of Answers...


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