To shilly-shally, or not to shilly-shally?

image What do you do when you need to make a decision, settle a question, find in favour of one thing or another, resolve an issue, influence the outcome (of a contest), pronounce judgement, come to a determination or resolution? (I couldn’t decide which definition to include.)

Some folk are decisive. Other folk (myself, as I demonstrated above, included), are politely known as irresolute or hesitant. We waver and equivocate, we shilly-shally (or dilly-dally) about until the need to decide is eliminated (‘Oh, dear, that movie finished its run this weekend, I guess I’ll see the other one’), or taken from us (‘We’re going to this movie,’ he said, ‘I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.’)

If the issue is trifling, such as going to a movie, and the consequences insignificant, then it’s okay to let others decide for us, or to defer the decision (‘The other movie is still showing after all! Let’s see it this weekend and the second movie next weekend’). As those of you who follow this blog know, one of its ongoing motifs is the character Goldilocks. She nails decision making: walk right in; eat this bowl of porridge; sit in this chair; sleep in this bed; bolt when you’re discovered.

Life changing decisions need more care and thought: which university (college) to attend, who to marry; whether to buy a house, accept or leave a job or have a baby. You could apply the Goldilocks decision making technique, consult an astrologer, toss the dice, or lay out Tarot cards to help you make these important choices. These methods are, however, dubious at best, although Tarot and astrology could provide light relief or insight, derived from the mythology that informs these traditions, into the choices before you. No, important decisions, usually the hard ones, need a hard head, otherwise known as the ability to list, analyse, understand and weigh the consequences of each choice. There is a little fortune telling involved though. Truly life altering decisions involve projecting yourself into the future: ‘If I choose A, my life might be like this … If I choose B then my life might be … Hmm, can I call a friend?’

Why, you may ask, is Janet writing about this? Good question.

Two minutes after I woke up this morning, I realised I had to make a decision. Either finish the chapter I mentioned in my last blog or write today’s post.

I promised my friend I’d send her my chapter by January or February this year. She assured me there was no hurry, so I put it off, relishing my retirement, catching up on reading, seeing friends, going to the movies, and writing posts for this blog. Since my ‘mini blogathon’ (a modest effort compared to the amazing Calensariel over at Impromptu Promptlings and Peculiar Ponderings), I’ve managed to post something every Wednesday and Sunday. I didn’t write yesterday’s post because I took my granddaughter to the ballet in the morning and in the afternoon I worked on the chapter.

Hence my challenge this morning. Work on the chapter or write my next post? Obviously, you’re reading the result of my decision, but the next question is, why has it taken me so long to modify a chapter of my thesis and send it off to my very patient friend?

The reason I started this blog was to share my ideas and research about therapeutic writing and to claim that writing is a legitimate therapeutic tool. What I’ve discovered, however, is revisiting my thesis is like ‘picking at a scar that’s puckered and still tender.’ Is this why I’m procrastinating or is there another reason? Maybe I no longer think of myself as just a ‘therapeutic writer?’

Starting this blog was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Yes, I want to contribute to my friend’s anthology. Yes, I hope what I write will not always be confined to this site. But blogging is writing. Sure, sometimes it’s a chore. Sometimes I have no idea what to write; sometimes the posts hit my personal ‘well written’ mark and sometimes they drop like lead. Either way, aimages most bloggers know, it’s not about the number of visits, followers, likes or comments. It’s about sitting in front of the computer, thinking through an idea and deciding how to present it. It’s about playing with words, finding the ‘just right’ combination, hitting ‘publish’ and sending those words out into the world – and not bolting if you’re discovered.

That’s not therapy, that’s pleasure, that’s being ‘astonished at nothing’, that’s ‘the answer to everything’.

It’s time I made lunch (what shall I have?) and then get to work on that chapter.   image


Tell me about the last time you had to make a decision. How did you decide and what were the consequences of your choice?

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