Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leaps of Faith

I have been known to have flights of indecisiveness, particularly when it comes to things that don’t really matter or have little consequence. Chicken or steak for dinner? Cous cous or pasta? The blue sweater or the black one? Paper or plastic?

See what I mean?

But when it comes to life’s big decisions, e.g. buying a house, picking an oncologist, I have laser-like focus. When I watch shows like “House Hunters,” which you all know I love, I usually recommend that the buyers purchase the first house they see as it always seems perfect for the family. Why do these people need to see more houses? To see if something better exists? Who knows. All I know is that when it comes to the big decisions, I jump in head first.

Maybe I trust my intuition. Or maybe I’m just crazy. (No answer required.)

Malcolm Gladwell summed this type of thinking up in “Blink,” in which he asserts that all major decisions can be made within the first two seconds of looking. Basically, the less—but better—input we have, the better equipped we are to make the right decisions about just about anything. Interesting concept.

I was thinking about this the other day because I have been mulling over getting a new dog. You all know how much I love my little Westie, Bonnie, but sometimes I feel like she’s lonely. The kids are at school all day, as is Jim, and I’m up in the attic all day, a place she only dares to venture up to if she’s got a burst of energy. After all, it’s three floors up, and the loveseat is nice and comfy and warm. Worried about her mental health, I’ve spent a few minutes searching Petfinder.com, where with a couple of search words, you can find the dog of your dreams in an instant. If I had gone with my initial instinct, with the blessing of my husband, of course, I probably would have already adopted a dog. But I have made the mistake of having everyone weigh in and of course, have heard my share of “bad dog” stories which has led me off the path of dog adoption and onto the path of showing Bonnie more love so that she doesn’t get any lonelier.

Yes, getting a new dog is a big decision, but is it really that big a decision? Jim and I saw five houses and made offers on two. I’ve been known to walk into a car dealership and walk out with a new car. I have made decisions that come with a host of possible negative consequences in an instant. Try this new melanoma clinical trial even though you may have ulcerative colitis or the rest of your life? Where do I sign?

So I am trying not to over think it. All of the major decisions that I’ve made in my life have been made in a split second and they have all turned out incredibly well. Heck—I decided to quit my job while driving over the bridge from work one night just because it was a beautiful night and the sun was hitting the Hudson a certain way. That was a great decision and I’ve never looked back. The only difference between that decision and the dog decision is that these other decisions might not have come with the predilection for barking or urinating on the floor. Or worse.

I’m going to stop thinking about this for a while. If the time is right, and Jim buys in, I’ll head to a shelter to see if someone begs me with their eyes to take them home.


Right now, however, I have bigger decisions to make as lunch is approaching. Peanut butter or chicken soup?


Maggie Barbieri

16 comments:

  1. I tend to be like you, but my husband has to take forever to decide about something. Of course it's worked well at times, such as not taking the asking price on a used car and leaving and the dealer running after us with a much lower price.

    Marilyn

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  2. I grew up with dogs as a kid but a lack of training for the dogs and people created a host of problems.

    I was determined to not let history repeat itself as an adult. The summer before we went looking I read Marley and Me and still got a Lab, well a lab mix. I also signed up for dog obedience classes from the minute our puppies (oh, did I mention we got siblings) got their last shots.

    The investment of time and money in the training has been the best money spent. Our trainer has become a great friend and our dogs have been able to travel with us to Carmel Beach, Bass Lake and all the way up to Weed, Ca.

    So, I say get the dog and sign up for training too! : ) Have fun!

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  3. Hi, Anajali, I think I met you at the Jane Austen Festival. I'll e going again this next year. (I'm guessing it's you because you mentioned places in California.)

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  4. I just stopped by my local humane society and donated some cat litter and some cash and was of course captivated by the friendly animals needing a home. Alas, our cat who is 18.5 years is not so much lonely without the two girl cats who used to be his buddies (they've each been gone around two years now and we all still sometimes miss them), but he in his old age has become very intolerant of other animals and we just feel like we have to give him his space and run of the house because at his age it wouldn't be fair to him to force him to cope with an animal he'd see as an invader, etc.

    We hope to have a dog or two someday, though, or maybe a cat and a dog.

    Good luck finding a nice dog whenever you look. Shelter dogs are wonderful, as you clearly know. And, if Bonnie is up for it, why not? Also, you could see about fostering a dog to start to see if she takes it well and if so you can move on to making the new dog a permanent part of the family!

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  5. Maggie, we are so alike, it's scary! I waver on small decisions, too, but know what I want quickly when it's big and important. And we did buy the first house we saw! Although my mom made me look at six more "just to be sure." But Ed and I knew from the start. And when I decided we needed a gray cat, we went to the APA and found Blue (who was the only gray cat in the place), and she's the sweetest, best kitty on the planet. So I hope you find a good doggie pal for Bonnie! Let us know how that goes!

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  6. I am like this too--to the point that my husband (of 16 years) was the first man I dated. But what about decisions where we don't control all the variables? What if we decide on Random House but Small Press X offers us a contract? Or we want to stay put forever, but husband's job takes us out of town? It can be very hard to be a Blink then. Being a Blink requires a certain amount of control.

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  7. Susan,
    My best Christmas Memories center around family and my grandmother's fabulous sugar cookies. Grandma has been gone for almost 40 years but we still gather together as a family and enjoy her sugar cookies, only I get to make them now.
    Pam

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  8. Marilyn,
    My wedding anniversary is the 28th. This year is #42.
    Pam

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  9. Maggie,
    Thanks for sharing Lauren's story. Makes me proud to be a blood donor (and have been since I was 18, so many, many years ago!)
    Pam

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  10. And a Merry Christmas to all of you. Pam

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  11. Maria,
    I, too, have a Kindle and I love it; however I still utilize my 3 different library cards and every store I enter, I have to go to the book section to browse(and I often buy at least one book). My hubby bought me a sweatshirt with the saying on the front, "Lead me not into temptation; especially bookstores!"
    He knows me so well.
    Pam

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  12. Marilyn,
    My daughter gives her kids parties and everyone is encouraged to bring a gift for charity or food for the food bank. My grands don't really want for the necessities and have enough toys. I thought her idea was great.

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  13. Susan,
    Good one re: Lya.
    Pam

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  14. Marilyn,
    Exactly correct in your assessment of the publishers. I do not know anyone who would read any of the books you mentioned or any of that ilk, and I know tons of people who read books voraciously.

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  15. Maggie,
    Powerful video . . . thanks so much for sharing and I'm thankful you've survived.
    Pam

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  16. I'm in the middle of Charlaine Harris' A SECRET RAGE. Next up is HEADS YOU LOSE by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

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