Tamar Adler, in Praise of Small Decisions

I always give people this advice when people ask me how to do things—and it’s not like I’m in a position to advise people on how to do anything. But I feel like we try to make these big decisions, and really we only have to make small decisions, in all moments. I don’t understand the big decision thing. What are you deciding? In fact, you can’t make the big decisions. You do not have the power to. And so it’s hilarious. I really hope that satellite out there orbits one degree to the left! Well, great, you know? There is a chance that your desire for that, depending on the course of your night, could possibly have an effect on that—but it’s unlikely. Maybe that’s where sensitivity and the Long Now match up, because I only make small decisions. But what that means is that I’m making actual decisions, not imaginary decisions. I think that probably what happens is we make a lot of imaginary decisions, and then because we’re distracted making those, we don’t make the small ones—the real ones. And we find ourselves, like, “Wait – I don’t understand how I got here!” It’s like, “Well, you didn’t make any decisions.”“But I did. I went to law school, and I picked a firm, and I decided to go to Geneva that summer,” and it’s like—but you didn’t choose what you were going to buy at the market, you didn’t chose what you were going to do the next day. So right, I never chose what I wanted to do in life because I didn’t know, and I was so angry when people asked me what I wanted to do. It was like, “Right now? I want to stop having this conversation.”

An Everlasting Meal author Tamar Adler, in The Believer (2014).

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