On smiling, easy decisions made harder

As I grow older, I find myself making decisions of less importance. It’s not that I used to make that many important decisions — I didn’t. It’s just that those few important decisions I now make seem less important than the important ones I used to make.

I also make decisions of little or no importance. I make a fair number of those. But I’m not sure if I’m making more or less of the less important decisions or if they are of less importance than the less important ones I used to make.

As to the nature of the decisions — irrespective of their importance — they are no longer couched in “my way or the highway” terms. I believe I have gained sufficient wisdom to see the folly in that approach. Now, too, I seldom demand performance within any certain period of time having become increasingly uncertain of my own place within it.

Lately, these musing have left me concerned. I’ve been facing the realization that I may have been making less important decisions all along. I’m concerned that many of the decisions I thought important may not have been. In which case, those decisions were not worth the worry and aggravation I expended on them as they were worth only the worry and aggravation appropriate to less important decisions. Another example of a misspent youth.

If that’s true, it raises an additional concern: the possibility that some of the important decisions I have remaining — aren’t.

Even though important decisions may not have been as important as I thought, I never found them easy to make. I’m wondering if some of the decisions I made that seemed both important and hard to make were not only not so important but not as hard to make as I thought they were. I’m thinking I made many important decisions more important than they actually were, harder to make than they should have been, and worried more about them than I should have.

I have also discovered that much of the importance in the important decisions I did make hasn’t held up — it faded with time. At this point, I’m looking for an important decision easily made that won’t fade fast. I’d like to make a decision whose importance will grow — not slowly dwindle away.

But I’ve been having trouble finding one. Which is surprising, as there are more and more things around claiming to be important and more things that are easier to do than what they used to be. For example, they now make a pancake mix where you don’t have to add an egg. Still, you are routinely advised to add one. I suspect it’s because they want you to feel important.

There has been some backsliding. Gas station attendants used to wash your windshield when you purchased gas — now you have to do that yourself — so there’s something that’s been made harder. Years ago, if you went to Hillman and stopped at Joe’s, a young Bruce Connon would wash all your car’s windows. So, that was easier back then — but many things weren’t.

I hope I’m not making finding an easy but important decision harder than it should be. Finding an easy decision will be easy, but finding the important part hasn’t been. Maybe I’m past making important decisions easily. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about this stuff anymore. Maybe the thing to do now is just smile and try to look important.

If I smile, other people will see that smile and they could smile back at me or go off somewhere and smile at someone else and those people might smile at other people who, perhaps, would also smile.

That’s what I’ll do, I’ll look around and smile — not worry about making important decisions or trying to look important. Smiling is easy and a smile can grow and spread.

But most importantly — smiling is something that’s really important.

Doug Pugh’s Vignettes runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. He can be reached via email at pughda@gmail.com.