In praise of slow decision-making
Most of my life, I have lived in the future. When I was in junior high, I couldn’t wait to be in high school. My junior and senior years, I couldn’t wait to graduate and move on to my university years. By my early twenties, I was dying to finish school and move on to the grownup world of travel and work. Soon after, I was itching to get married. A few years later, I was pining for kids.
You get the idea. I never did the best job of standing still and simply enjoying the stage I was actually in. I constantly felt this pull to move forward and plan (or dream about) what’s next.
My husband, Kyle, tends to be the opposite. He isn’t a fan of overtly forward-thinking planning sessions, but he does a fabulous job of Being All Here. Wherever we are in the world, he’s almost always content to just be there, waiting patiently for the right moment when the next stage rolls in to the station. None of this dangerously-chasing-after-the-moving-train-and-hopping-on-before-it-slows-down business that I tend to do.
For the most part, we make a good team with these opposing tendencies: I help us remember what’s next and brainstorm our best move; he helps us appreciate the moment and revel in the here and now. He reminds me to live in the present, and I help us enjoy that present better by remembering what’s just ahead.
As you might imagine, this has really affected our travels the past few months; in a good way, for the most part. I work on planning ahead; he works on what we should do today. It’s all good.
But where I tend to struggle lately is focusing on what’s next—the next next. Meaning, after this trip. Believe it or not, I actually started brainstorming and strategizing about our post-trip life before we even boarded our first flight to start the dadgum thing. We had zero cards on the table, and yet I was ready to play. It’s taken me a lot of work to slow down and revel in the beauty of wherever we are.
I’m so glad I have. While ideas and conversation topics have continually bubbled on the back burner (and we pull those pots forward to give them a good stir no less than once a week), Kyle has taught me the beauty and the significance of waiting for the right time to sample the flavors and notice where our ingredients take us.
We’ve hopped around three continents so far (four, by this Thursday), and for most of those, our what’s next has been a giant question mark, dangling out there in the sky. We had an inkling of some direction, but mostly, our future post-trip life has been a bit vague—everything from where we live to what we do for work.
But now? As of the past few weeks? The picture is pretty clear. It was almost and on-off switch for us, not too long ago, when we realized what we need to do next when we next set foot on American soil. And it came to us, quietly, like a gift. It was the right time to finally open it. The right time to pull the pot to the front-burner and give it more attention.
Had we followed my instinctual eggtimer, we would have jumped to too many conclusions too quickly, and it would have hindered our present state of affairs. But we waited. And we let the juices blend and marinate till it was just so. We’re still waiting for the concrete foundation to pour and harden (how many metaphors can I use in one post, I ask you?), but it feels good to have waited for the right time for the big stuff to reveal itself.
If you’re someone more like me, let’s better learn the fine art of waiting for things to divulge themselves in the right time, and to bask in the here and now while we wait. There is much to be praised about the beauty of slow decision-making. For most things in life, there’s no rush. Whatever’s in your life that feels like a conundrum, perhaps that’s a sign it needs to quietly be moved to the back burner, so you can take long walks, read that book, laugh with your kids, see that movie you keep meaning to see. The answer will come in due time, when it’s ready.
If you’re partnered with someone like me but are really more like Kyle, use your gift of living in the present to quietly inspire the likes of us to take in the view. And at the same time, appreciate our willingness and innate desire to plan what’s next and dream about the future. Our gifts come in handy, too.
Regardless who you are, there is a simple sheer beauty in making big decisions long and slow, in waiting for answers to reveal themselves on their own, when it’s time. And while you’re waiting, take pleasure in smelling the roses right in front of you.
(But don’t forget to dream, too.)
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