This past weekend Devon and I were eating our dinner of roasted cruciferous vegetables (we’ve entered that stage in our relationship where farting is allowed–I’m going to go so far as to say encouraged really–so this was a safe dinner choice despite the predictably gassy results) and we found a tiny sticker on the table leftover from Spiderman wrapping presents for his friends (we wrap presents in this house in inside out Trader Joe’s bags with custom sticker decorations. It’s one of those things I do that make us look unique and creative, but really I just hate spending money on gift wrap. That, my friends, is how hipsters are born). The fish was smiling a big, open-mouthed smile revealing a red tongue.
As you know, Spiderman has been having some trouble getting adjusted to Kindergarten and the number of possible solutions was driving me completely batty for a good long while here. Leave him at this school and help him make it better. Move him to another public school. Try a private school. Put him back into preschool. Quit my job, live in a tent, and homeschool… all options.
With too many options on the table I tend to do nothing for a good, long while.
If the reality was a picture in my head (which it usually is), it looks like this: I find myself standing across from a row of options, it’s almost like a reverse firing squad. They are straight and tall and emotionless, they’re all uniformed and they look the same. And we’re definitely standing inside of some kind of fort with a dirt ground and arches embedded in adobe walls. It’s all of them on one side, and just me on the other… and I’m not tied to any post, and they’re all completely available for the plucking, and all I can see in this row in front of me is that I don’t know which one is “right.” And apparently the fear of being “wrong” is so great, I don’t do anything.
I found a school that I would love to send Spiderman to a few weeks ago. It’s a small private school and it’s expensive. I’m in the midst of applying for admission and financial aid… taking the steps between possibility and reality. I became singularly focused on this as a solution and although there was still a lot of unknown and scary and potentially difficult about it, I felt confident about my pursuit. Yesterday I got a call that a local charter school had an opening for him–he also had a great day at his current school and I was rocketed from my confident pursuit back to window shopping in possibility again and I was shocked by how intense and instant the terror was.
Barry Schwartz has written (and talked) about the paradox of choice, particularly for us as consumers…
Whether his facts or figures are compelling enough to support his argument, or you are inspired to consider him credible based on his choice of attire… I’m going to go with my lived experience as proof enough (by the way, I don’t agree with him that the key to happiness is low expectations… no expectations perhaps, but low… no). When possibility becomes too much choice… and too many choices lead to anxiety and paralysis… it’s time to do something different. It’s time to simplify.
I don’t know about you, but I hear about “simple living” all of the time and I’m not sure anyone knows what that means. I mean, it means having less “stuff” which definitely has its advantages… but what else? For me, it means it’s time to know what I want before I seek out the options… to be confident in my preferences, priorities, and values… to go with my instincts and trust them. To rule something out because it feels wrong and to consider something because it feels right.
If I’m going to see possibility as a gift instead of a source of pain, I have to know what I want and need… and I have to remember that there is no such thing as a universal “right” or “wrong” and instead know what is right and wrong for me.
I have a hunch that living simply also includes following through on commitments, like this project (the blog) and it’s monthly themes… and I’ve been really good at allowing possibility to take me off track and haven’t been experiencing the results I want. So, let’s change that shall we?
And if I need to believe that fish have tongues to feel safe… then I can. Goodness knows, people believe stranger things with full societal acceptance.