I used to know exactly what I liked and what I didn’t like. Men with chest hair… like. Men with back hair… dislike. Black dresses… like. Anything with stripes… dislike. I lived my twenties in a ‘maybe-free’ world, steadfast in my opinions and certain of my correctness.
But somewhere in my thirties, my tower of convictions began to crumble. I blame the children. I also blame the children for my increased interest in wine and my decreased interest in thick novels. Once I was in possession of daughters, lots of issues started to gray within my mind. I still tipped to the left on most things but I started rooting for stronger sentences for pedophiles, and rapists, and convenience store robbers who casually shot teenage-cashiers on their way out the door. And it got harder to remember which side I supported in all the different global conflicts. I just wanted everybody to stop shooting kids.
On a day-to-day basis, stuff that used to be straightforward suddenly got complicated. The grocery store was (and still is) an endless source of inner debate. Organics… like. But 3 kids x 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day x $2 per pesticide-free orange = no college education funds. And is that orange imported? Because local trumps imported. Organics… like sometimes?
Nuts are healthy and sugar is not. That seems like a pretty straightforward statement of fact. But what about peanut allergies? Could I send my ten-year old to school with an oatmeal granola bar that wasn’t nut-free? Was her right to protein and fiber greater than her classmate’s right to life? Nuts… like sometimes?
By 50, every inner conversation seems to have become mired in indecision. Can I have that Starbucks coffee? Is it fair trade? Maybe I’ll just get one at the local cafe… but they recently undermined an attempt by workers to unionize and I can’t remember whether that was good or bad… maybe I’ll just put on a pot at home. Crap… out of coffee. Is it worth a trip to the dreaded grocery store?
My eldest is in university now. She knows exactly what she likes and what she doesn’t like and there are definitely times when I envy her decisiveness and the passion that comes with it. But for the most part I am comfortable with my pondering. Indecision lets my mind wander over a broader plain.
I walk my dog around the block and we discuss world events and family matters and the trivial aspects of life (like how early in the day one can decently declare ‘happy hour’ without risking an intervention by loved ones). While he’s not much of a talker, I believe Buster the schnauzer is a ponder-er, like me. I can tell because it takes him a long time to decide which flowers to pee on and he sometimes starts barking at a cat. And then stops. And then starts…
Our one-sided conversations don’t generally get me any closer to making up my mind on anything, but they don’t make matters any worse. And maybe that’s important. Perhaps a little less decisiveness and a little more pondering might be good for everybody. Because a world filled with folks walking dogs and looking at flowers seems like a nice place to be… don’t you think so?