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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Anatomy of a Decision

I had a couple of small incidents while booksigning that I thought might make a simple illustration of what I mean by making a decision out of love for something and not out of fear of something. Very often it is not such an easy thing to figure out if you are doing something out of love or fear. These two incidents were so small that it was easy to see the difference but, being so simple, perhaps it illustrates the process of decision making better than a more complicated situation
The first incident was that my daughter and her four daughters were coming on Saturday night. I was babysitting while my daughter met with some old schoolmates. Although I had a booksigning scheduled for Sunday I thought about coming in late so we could have a nice leisurely breakfast.

Should I come in late or not?. I asked myself, “would coming in early be out of love of booksigning? No, not really. Spending the time with my daughter and my grandchildren was much more inviting to me than booksigning. And I had no real obligation to the bookstore as the time was to be “sometime that day.” So staying home and having a leisurely breakfast would be out of love for my family, and coming in at the earlier time to the store would be out of fear I wouldn’t sign enough books for the day. So that decision was clear-cut.

At another booksigning I parked my car and was approaching the bookstore when I realized I had left my cell phone in the car. Without really thinking too hard I quickly decided I didn’t want to take time out and go back since I had parked about ten minutes away and I had walked already half way and I didn’t want to lose the time. So without thinking too hard I made a decision totally out of fear of something. Fear I would lose too much time. And of course, like any decision made out of fear, it didn’t go well.

About an hour later, after I started booksigning, I thought that my cell phone might be damaged by the heat. And this time I did the little exercise. If I were to go back now it would take me twice as long and I would lose 20 minutes of booksigning. Was I going back to get the cell phone out of fear it would be damaged? Or was I NOT going back for the cell phone for fear I would not sign enough books? Any decision made out of fear of something, remember, never turns out to be appropriate in some way.

So where did the love of something come in as concerns going back for my cell phone?
I decided that fear of property damage was a legitimate fear that called for a sense of responsibility. Therefore going back for my cell phone was an action based on the love of my cell phone, or love of responsibility for my cell phone, either one works. And not going back for my cell phone was based on the fear that I would lose too much time signing books A. B. Curtiss.

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Thanks for these wonderful examples. It is very hard to distinguish love/fear motivations, especially for someone like me, who is particularly gifted at making the case for either side. I probably missed my calling as a lawyer.

One example for me would be w/the person I spoke of in a comment here the other day. The money-obsessed person. I'm cordial & friendly when I see her. When she's on vacation, I water her plants. Every week I bring in her trash cans from the street.

But here's the rub: in my heart, the truth is, I want to avoid her as much as I can. I don't want to see her or talk to her. I feel very, very guilty & torn about this, because I feel it is MY problem & that I have an "issue" if I feel so negatively toward someone. Love they neighbor, you know!

I tell myself it is out of love for my sanity that I avoid her. She is a "toxic" person to me.

I also tell myself the greater good is to be loving beyond the self, to extend love to others, no matter what.

I tell myself that I am acting from fear when I avoid her.

I also say to seek out her company would be acting from fear of "being a bad person." That would Not be a genuine act of kindness from love.

Ah, but taking the action is more important than my feelings about it. Or is it? St. Paul said that good works done without a loving heart are worthless.

Very sticky.