Decisions.

You have a right to experiment with your life.

You will make mistakes.

And they are right too.

– Anaïs Nin

It’s a Wednesday afternoon in Burbank, California, and I’m lying flat on my back on a massage table. But I’m not getting a massage. Instead, I’m doing something I’ve never done before, a theme for me lately. I’m seeing an intuitive healer. I’m not sure what to expect, only that I’ve been feeling stuck and directionless, and that the healer – a woman named Alicia – was recommended by a close friend. And so, I go.

Alicia begins by using a pendulum device to scan my chakras. As she suspends it over my body, it spins clockwise, emitting a soft hum. When she gets to the area above my heart, the pendulum’s spin slows down. Above my head, it stops altogether, and then begins to spin backwards.

“You’re feeling indecisive,” she says.

“Yes,” I admit.

“Doubting yourself?”

“Yes.”

When I get up from the table and check my phone, I’m stunned to discover that nearly two hours have passed. Despite our pre-session consultation, during which Alicia advised me that I could feel any number of things during the healing (sadness, pain, anger – to name a few), I remained calm and relaxed throughout. As she placed her hands on my ankles, my shoulders, the crease in my elbow, the crown of my head – anywhere that needed healing – she asked me questions, described images she saw, and we talked. That was it. I didn’t cry, not once. When I left her house, I felt tired, but also, at peace.

A few days later, at a creative writing workshop with WriteGirl, a mentoring organization I volunteer for, I spent several hours working with two teenage girls whom I’d never met before. They were both beginning the college application process and were both feeling overwhelmed by it all. As we talked about schools, AP classes, personal essays and the pressure to choose a major, I heard myself giving them advice I wish I’d received when I was seventeen:

“If you choose a college and you don’t like it, you can always transfer.

If you pick a major that’s not right for you, you can always change it.

I know it feels like the decisions you make now will determine the rest of your life,

but I promise you, they won’t.

You can always change your mind. About everything.”

In my life, I’ve spent a whole lot of time talking about all the big things I’m going to do, and only a little bit of time doing them. The “talk” is safe, because a plan that hasn’t been put into action yet hasn’t had the chance to fail. The decision is a different thing altogether. The decision is scary. The decision means that you stop thinking, stop weighing your options. It means you go for it, and you don’t look back.

I talked about going to New York for a long time before I decided to do it. And now that I’ve decided, I feel a bit like a snowball rolling down a hill, rapidly gathering speed. I gave up my apartment and all my furniture. I’m paring down my belongings, getting rid of clothes and books and personal effects I used to cherish. I’m preparing to sell my car, and several pieces of my mother’s jewelry. And even though I don’t leave for three more weeks, this weekend I’m hosting a going away party at which I’ll see many of my L.A. friends for the last time. At least, for a while.

Thinking about those teenage girls, their futures uncertain, their whole lives stretched out before them like a promise, I found myself wondering: how many evolutions do we get in a life? And I think the answer is: as many as we chose. We can always change. We can always grow. But we must be willing to say no to the old way of doing things, and yes to the uncertain and the unknown. We must be willing to be vulnerable. To screw up. To learn. And to begin again.

Until next time, friends.

35 thoughts on “Decisions.

  1. Oh I loved reading this! My son is 17, & trying to make so many big decisions about what he’s going to do… I keep wanting to say exactly what you did. And at 51, I’m still changing too…
    Good luck with your move 👍🏼💪🏼 G

  2. That’s a great quote, and I heartily agree with the advice you gave those girls. I remember how we all felt at that age, trying desperately to plan a lifetime with so many unknowns still ahead of us.

    I applaud your decision to make a bold move, I daresay we did the same and our only regret has been that we didn’t do it sooner. Looking forward to following along!

  3. I am going to miss your LA Beat, and the palm trees, and the sunflowers, and the photographs along the Palisades and up La Cienega Boulevard and down Mulholland Drive… all courtesy of you, your pen and your camera. I thank you for these sweet and heartfelt musings… while I look forward to your NYC Stories. May they be your best yet.

  4. I quit my job without having another in hand, knowing that this isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life. The misery from staying put was far greater than quitting. But into the second week of my career-break, I bagged another job; due to indecisiveness, I thought it better to start giving interviews and look for another instead of deciding to change career-path on impulse. But I am not sure if going back in the same field would do me any good. I approached a career counsellor and the report came in now. I have three weeks to decide if I go back to the corporate or take that first step into the unknown in an effort to carve a niche in a different field. As I finished reading the report, the very next thing I chanced upon was your blog post here in the Reader. The following prompted me to read on: “You have a right to experiment with your life…And they are right too.”
    I can’t tell you how much I relate to this at the moment: “In my life, I’ve spent a whole lot of time talking about all the big things I’m going to do, and only a little bit of time doing them. The “talk” is safe…The decision is scary. The decision means that you stop thinking, stop weighing your options. It means you go for it, and you don’t look back.”
    Sorry for the rant. And Thank you for sharing this.
    Wishing you the best for the next phase!!

    • No apologies necessary! I’m glad you found my blog. I can tell you that I tend to be a Type-A, meticulous planner who is very risk averse, but in the last several years I’ve lost a lot of people I love (including both of my parents) suddenly, and that has made me look at my life with a different perspective. We spend so much time in limbo waiting for “the right time” to take a chance, or do the thing that will make us happy. There is no right time, and nothing is promised. The worst thing you can do is look back on your life with regret about the things you didn’t do, my friend. Be braver than you think you are, and you will surprise yourself, I promise. I’m rooting for you! Sarah

  5. Exactly we must be able to choose as and when we like and change our mind as soon as the information changes. But it would be so much more awesome if we could learn as much from other people’s mistake.

  6. Beautiful post. This really resonated with me – I vividly remember going through the college application process and thinking that every decision I made then would determine my future. I wish I had someone like you reminding me that you can always change your mind. That advice holds true for anything, whether it’s college decisions or deciding to start your life over. Thank you for posting this.

    • Oh thank you! There’s a lot to figure out, and I’m still trying to be present and enjoy these next two weeks in my long time home with people I love, but yes, I am getting excited. I’m grateful for your sweet good wishes. Thank you friend! ❤

  7. The decisions we make in our lives have a significant effect on our future and even our current state. Yes we can elect to change our minds and our way of thinking and move forward in a different direction, but we have to make sure that the “different” is the right direction, otherwise we’ll end up right back where we started from. Hope the move is amazing for you.
    #WiseChoices

  8. Decisions. We’re always one step away from the right or the wrong ones. 🙂 Time is the best judge and the healer, I suppose.
    Also, it’s been curved to alphabets beautifully. Loved it! 🙂

  9. Good read here; I am always going to be a happy lackadaisical bee lost within your garden Flowers Sarah.

    My Favorite Warren Zevon Quotes: From Desperadoes under the Eves. “Except in Dreams, You’re never free.” So dream your heart out Lady, and where ever be your garden flowers, so shall I explore. 🙂

  10. It’s the same for me. I am indecisive because I am always afraid of the results. I tend to think big but never took any action. I think it’s time to believe in myself. Like you said, I can change my mind anytime!

  11. I totally agree. We must continue to challenge ourselves, to be vulnerable, to risk failing. How else can we ever really be alive? Big best wishes for your upcoming adventure.

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