Reflection 58: Decisions, Decisions

February 2, 2009

(Copyright © 2009)


When I tell myself I have to make a decision, I try to let my body tell me what to do. That way, it effectively consults all of its bodily resources—feelings, past experiences, senses, expectations, judgment, social awareness, physical prowess, and the rest. Here’s an example precipitated by today’s snowstorm.


My Quaker meeting relies on people to volunteer as greeters to set up chairs, welcome people, and bring the meeting to a close. Being greeter is a great way to keep in touch with members and attenders, and to make your body useful. Dean and Mary were scheduled to greet this morning, but they were called away to attend a funeral in Philadelphia, and asked me to do the honors. Which I readily agree to. Dianne will help out. I tell her I’ll pick her up about 8:30. And will call in case the snowstorm heading toward the Maine coast actually shows up (storms often arrive later than predicted). When I wake up at 7:00, I look out the window—and see snow. I listen to NOAA weather radio. The robot voice predicts 3 to 5 inches in the morning. Only a third of an inch has fallen so far. What to do? We might beat the worst of it if we hold meeting as planned. I have all-weather radials on my car, which are OK but not great on packed snow. Are the plows out? Not yet. Conditions are sure to get worse before they get better. Dianne lives six miles away in Somesville, reachable by Route 233, which rises over McFarland Hill, often a bad spot in a storm. But usually sanded. The meeting is in Northeast Harbor, another six miles, over Brown Mountain Notch (often icy, not always sanded). What to do? I cook breakfast, watching the snow come down as I wait for the buckwheat to get done. Anxious, that’s how I feel. I don’t want to cop out, but I fear roads will get slippery. Dianne collided with a deer last week, so her car’s in the shop. I don’t have the power to call off meeting, but that would be the implication if I decide not to go. Dean and Mary aren’t going, nor Carole, the other Dianne and Robert, Carol and Rich. If Dianne and I don’t go, who’s that leave? I run through the list. Which of them is likely to go? No telling. It keeps snowing, not hard, but steadily. It’s 8:00. I told Diane I’d pick her up at 8:30. I wish I knew if this is going to keep up or turn out just another bluff by the weather radio to make things look worse than they are. Me, a worrywart? Looks like it. What to do? Is it safe to go out? Do I really want to drive in this stuff? How much of a wimp am I willing to be? Is it really going to snow that much? OK, time to decide. Still snowing, not hard, but it is coming down, piling up. If I don’t go, do I want to keep others from going? What to do? I don’t feel comfortable driving in this stuff. I’m not going! Others can decide for themselves. But I’ve already decided for them. Why let them put themselves at risk? Dial: “Dianne, I don’t feel comfortable driving in this. I’m not coming by.” We make a list of who to call. I call three others, she calls five or six. Decision made. Now what to do?


I work on Reflection 56 about the relation between consciousness and the self. By noon we have four or five inches of snow, and it is still coming down. After lunch, I write this post about making a decision, which is one of the main jobs consciousness has. I didn’t make the decision, my body made it for me (just as my body is writing this blog). But it wasn’t that easy. Which is why we have it—consciousness—in the first place. There is no way to assess driving conditions without going out. There is no way to tell how much snow will come down. Consult memory about storms in the past. Consciousness is given to the body in order to muddle through such messy imponderables. In the end, taking every factor into account, the body will inform itself of the decision it has reached. Then it will act on its decision, and we, whoever we think we are, will go along for the sake of adventure.


Note to Body:        Must be getting old. Ten years ago I was out on foot in this stuff all the time.


Body to Steve:       Walking is one thing, driving another. So you were foolish ten years ago. Tell me something.


Note to Body:        You tell me. These are your doings, not mine. I’m just a figment, remember?


Body to Steve:       You got that right.





4 Responses to “Reflection 58: Decisions, Decisions”

  1. richard said

    Your consciousness was making an informed decision based on your accumulated life experiences. ..accidents happen, at our age we don’t need any more complications than you already have.

  2. Steve Perrin said

    Whatever happened to my carefree youth? Must we all die as ultra-conservatives?

  3. richard said

    it is the price we pay when we really think about the consequences of our decisions

  4. gene franck said

    and yes, we are growing old and with age and the experiences
    age inevitable brings we become more and more cautious to
    save our “skins” and bones

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