Yesterday, I was asked to make a difficult decision.
On top of having the
Bubonic Plague flu, now I’m wrestling with a decision I can’t make heads or tails of and just keeping turning over and over in my fever-addled brain. And I’ll be honest—I checked in with both my heart and my mind and neither seems to have any idea what I should do.
The heart gets a bad rep in the decision making department. Poets and romantics always advocate going with what your heart wants. The heart is a fickle bitch, and doesn’t always have your best interests in sight. Don’t get me wrong, I am both a poet and a romantic, so I get it. I get the appeal of “following your bliss.” Hell, I even advocate it, most of the time.
But if I trust my heart exclusively, I might find myself one day happily following my bliss, the next day driving around blasting Nirvana with all my windows down and the cold air stinging my eyes and cheeks in some kind of 17 years old revisited moment and screaming the lyrics until my throat hurts (true story).
“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.” ~ e.e. cummings
If we let our hearts do all the decision making, we will end up with our seas on fire, wondering how we got here and what the fuck happened.
So, do we go with our heads, then? Clearly, that’s a big part of my process, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here cerebrally processing my mess for your enlightenment/entertainment. (Enlightainment? Gag.)
Our minds are amazing. My brain shifts into research mode when I’m trying to make a decision—even a small one. Pros and Cons. Get more information. Which is “best.” But cerebrally weighing out the facts misses something, doesn’t it. What you know can also change in the blink of an eye. I was running in the woods and was sure I saw a coyote. As I got closer, my pulse stopped racing, I calmed down and realized…just an oddly shaped log. But when I knew—I knew. How many of the things we know are getting in our way?
The truth is we never make one decision, even the difficult ones are not just one choice. It takes 500 steps to get from question to answer even if your heart wants to do it in one great leap.
It takes steps like lying around in your pajamas watching season three of The United States of Tara and making ridiculous lists and asking your friends for help and buying new pairs of shoes. It takes time and quiet. It takes noise and getting out of the house, out of your head (and hopefully out of those damn pajamas).
Our lives are patchwork quilts made of 108 million little choices that we make, and we are more than the sum of our choices. If I always let my heart lead, I will crash and burn sometimes, but I will keep in touch with that genuine raw place inside. If I let my head have the final say, I might end up somewhere that’s good on paper, but doesn’t really fit.
If we want to get to the root of what we really want and need, it might be time to bypass both heart and mind and listen to our guts.
We talk about “gut instinct” and more often than not, it will steer us to where we truly need to be more often than either our brains or our hearts: