Last week I visited an old friend who I hadn’t seen since 1980. He had moved into my hometown in 6th grade and moved across the country after 10th grade, not keeping in touch with anyone. But he had left his mark. He was a great athlete and a great leader but his intensity was what set him apart. Also his positivity. But there was something else that I couldn’t put my finger on back then.
Once in the summer, a few of us were going to the park to play baseball and needed another guy there to make the sides even. He lived across town so we hadn’t talked to him in weeks. I called him and asked if he wanted to join us in about a half hour to play. I still remember his response, it was “sure.” No hemming and hawing, no checking with anyone, no “who’s gonna be there?” just “sure.” Delivered in the upbeat, enthusiastic tone he always had.
So fast forward to last month. We were going to Michigan on vacation and I had heard he lived nearby. So I called him up. Said I wanted to visit. And he answered with some 30-years-later version of “sure.”
We had a great day. Ate lunch, canoed, met his family, hung out in the man-cave; all while catching up on old times, telling old stories and discussing life. And the more we hung out, the more clear it became. This was a self actualized man. A man at peace with himself. Assertive without being pushy. Tough without being a bully. And he was present. When we were eating lunch he was right there. When we were canoeing, we were canoeing. When he would sub-reference he would bring the conversation back to the point where we left it and ask me to continue. The man-cave had no TV. I was loving the experience of clarity and an absence of emotional or external clutter. Or noise, as it is referred to sometimes in meditation. It felt like a nice visit with and old friend had become an Open, Deep and True research laboratory.
After I left I had a long drive to analyze what it was about the visit that had me vibrating at such a high frequency. One of the first things that came up was decisiveness. He was incredibly decisive. He would weigh a decision, make it. then move on. No second guessing. No woulda, coulda, shoulda. When it came time to pick a career he said “I took a business course in college, didn’t do well. I took a psychology course and did really well and like it. So that’s what I chose.” He then went on to have a successful career counseling head trauma patients.
It seems so simple, but how many of us get stuck at the crossroads, unable to put the stake in the ground and DECIDE?
In Latin, the word decide breaks down as: to kill all other options ie. the cide part giving meaning to homicide and genocide
Thinking of a decision in this way has benefits after the decision is made. You have killed all the other options. They are gone. There is no need to spend any mental bandwidth on them any longer so you can get to the business of making the path you have chosen work.
But what if circumstances change? Aren’t you stuck with a bad decision? Maybe. And then you are free to make ANOTHER decision, in the new light.
In high school, my decisive friend once leaned out of the car and yelled “Pick a lane and stay in it” at another driver who was weaving in and out of both lanes of a two lane road. That became a funny story that my friends and I told for years. And now, after my visit last week, I have a new appreciation for it.