Life Lesson #5 From Camel’s Hump


#5    Sometimes, it doesn’t matter which way we go.


9 IMG_1078



So, I’m trekking down the path, carefully placing my foot so I don’t twist my ankle on the rocks, and taking care to keep an eye on the blue blazes, when I see a fork ahead.  The path splits at the tree; which way to go?


Then I look a bit further and see that the path comes together again just beyond the tree. So, whether I go to the left or to the right, I’ll wind up back on the same path.  Could that be yet another lesson for me? 


What if  it really didn’t matter whether we chose the red top or the blue, the asparagus or the broccoli, Tide or Era, the Yale preppy or the math geek, or to stay or to go?


Too often I’ve faced decisions with a life or death grip, needing to find the RIGHT decision.  What tragedy will ensue if I make the WRONG decision?  Whether it was laundry detergent, the blouse for the day, or whom to marry, once upon a time I invested in each decision with equal attention to detail.

No more.

Today I know that decisions come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of importance.

For a few decisions, I make lists: the positives vs. the negatives; the costs of one vs. the costs of the other. For some, I tune into my heart (or my gut): what is it I really want. (This works better with decisions of the heart as opposed to laundry detergent ones).

Sometimes I journal about the choice before me, switching between my right (dominant) hand and left. Writing with my non-dominant hand allows me to access a part of my brain that I wouldn’t otherwise listen to. Some call that one’s “inner child.”  Whatever we call it, I get to hear about the choice before me from a different perspective.
How very freeing it has been to learn that not all decisions are of equal value. Often times, the choices we have before us don’t matter, not in the long run. We can use Tide, or we can use the rocks by the side of the river; we can go left, or we can go right.  We’ll probably — as I did trekking down Camel’s Hump last June – wind up in the same place.  It’s a matter of how far out we look.


How about you? What’s your history tackling decisions? 



[learn_more caption=”Did you miss the earlier posts in this series?  If so, here are the links:”]

#13    When the going gets tough, each step is of equal importance. 
#12    Sometimes, perseverance is more important than having fun.
#11     Sometimes, there is no single, absolutely right place to put your foot.
#10    Sometimes, when we try to follow the signs, it ends in disaster. 
#9      Sometimes, the path we need to take doesn’t look like a path at all.
#8      Sometimes, we just have to stop and listen.
#7      Sometimes, we just have to stop and stare at the view.
#6      Sometimes, it’s nice to have a reminder that we’re going in the right direction.

11 Responses

  1. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    There have been moments when I’ve been in a situation–which ice cream flavor to choose or should i buy asparagus or broccoli or some other choice–when I just finally say to myself, “This is silly. Just choose.” And you are right, it still brings me to the same path–dinner, a treat, or whatever.

    Who to marry though? That doesn’t seem to fit into the same category as choosing a laundry detergent, and I don’t think it would have brought me to the same path. I think if I had married someone else my life would be very different. I wouldn’t have the two wonderful daughters I have, I wouldn’t live in this house, they wouldn’t have gone to the schools they went to, and on and on.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I love your ice cream example, Merril. Pizza toppings would be another for me.

      But it sounds like you’ve found the secret to true happiness: that as you look back upon your choices, you realize you want only what you already have and to be only where you already are. That’s a great place to be.

  2. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    Decisions, decisions, my son is an artist at avoiding decisions. As a result he sometimes, quite often actually, ends up doing things he never wanted to do. This approach even took him to China to teach English not long after he finished university. It’s taken me thirty five years, but I think I’ve finally got him to understand that the sooner you make a decision, the sooner things move on. If you find they’re going in a direction you dislike and don’t want to go there, make another decision and change things. You won’t always get it right, but you’ll get better at it, and at least you won’t be stuck agonising over something that can be resolved simply by deciding. Sometimes decisions bring delightful surprises too. That’s a bonus.
    But don’t decide without at least some consideration, even if it is vary brief.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      You remind me of a conversation I once had with my grandmother, Ian. She wanted me to do something, make a certain choice (I’ve long since forgotten just what) and I wanted something else. She said “I’ve got experience on this; learn from my mistakes.” To which I said, “I need to make my own mistakes; learn from my own experiences.”

      Now, when we are the older generation, this I s one of the hardest lessons to remember. We see the road ahead so clearly. If only those young ‘uns would listen.

      Wasn’t that the problem with the men in Plato’s cave? Maybe not.

      Thanks for adding your voice.

  3. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Love this post, Janet! In the past, I have suffered from the “paralysis of analysis” in my decision-making process. But trial and error and life eventually taught me to choose my battles wisely and to ask myself: “what’s the worst thing that can happen if… “. Age has its rewards! Thanks for a thought-provoking post.


    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Age does indeed have its rewards, thanks Kathy. The paralysis of analysis, I love it. Mine was “the paralysis of perfection,” that search for the one right way.
      Either one will freeze us in our tracks. I’m so glad you added your thoughts. Always good to have you.

  4. Joan Z. Rough
    | Reply

    I like to give myself plenty of time. I sleep on important decisions and often discover that what my choice was before I slept on it is the same after 8 hrs of sleep.

    I used to make snap decisions when I was younger and got to make lots of boo-boos. A big lesson for me.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Joan. You got me thinking about those “boo boos” of my own. I’m of the opinion, from the advantage of time, that they added spice — and were great lessons. Only one significant regret. Two maybe. Not too bad I think. Did yours make it into the “significant regret” box?

  5. gulzhan
    | Reply

    Hello!I liked your stories. I am not so good at making good decisions.Its a big problem for me choose right decision.sometimes I learn from my mistakes.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hi Gulzhan. Thanks for coming to see my blog.

      I once had a poster that said, “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I’m going to make some more.”

      Sometimes, when we grow up in a very structured society (like the old Soviet Union), we don’t get much experience (or practice) making decisions. It’s like a muscle that must be used in order to stay strong. Keep flexing that muscle. You’ll see what I mean. (I’m eager to hear about your visit with Valerie. Write me an email. Great pictures).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a blog you'd like to share? I use CommentLuv Click here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.