We, people, do not make decisions well. We linger with an odd sort of patience as if waiting for a bus that is never on time, as if there is some magic involved, but neither decisions nor their consequences are magic. They are odds and probabilities. Every decision and its outcome is a carefully crafted series of events we mostly have no control over. I wrote the previous sentence not as some display of free will but as a consequence of the tapestry of events—big and small—which happened before I began observing them and which will continue long after I stop looking. What brought upon this nihilistic lashing of words? I could not tell you any more than I could tell you why the planet we live on is precisely at the proper distance from the Sun, which is to say I could not tell you at all.
However, as much as making decisions or predicting their consequences is impossible, I argue for decisiveness still. I say, why linger? Why waste precious time cogitating when the outcome remains out of our purview? Why not be incisive and swift? If no shoe fancies your sight in the store, but you know you need a pair (otherwise, you would not be there), why not pick any of them and see where it leads? We are spoiled for choice, and it has made us terrible leaders of our own lives. We lead nowhere because we fail to decide our direction at all. The entire world is now in an arrested development, a perpetual limbo of options, cushioned and smothered by all the different choices for all the things imaginable. We have outsourced our authority to systems we do not understand. When the time comes to exercise this muscle of making a decision—when we must get up and leave someplace, when we find ourselves caught in the web of monotony, when we face even the bleakest, tiniest moment of changing our lives—we hesitate and dillydally, almost out of habit, thinking the decision will be made for us anyway.
I go out for a walk with no destination. Yet, all the roads lead me to the same cafe, day after day, walk after walk. I sit there, sipping my coffee as usual, and I find it hard to answer who made that choice for me.