What always cracks me up is that sometimes we think we are deciding something – and we are – but just not in the way we thought we were. In other words, sometimes we’re a little like Goofy. We go into the mad scientist’s laboratory to sweep the floor, accidently hit a button with the broom handle and end up in a spaceship to Mars.
I remember once in 1999, for example, when I had left my old job in Treviso, Italy and had flown home for the holidays. I had bought a round-trip ticket but was unsure as to whether or not I was ready (or willing) to go back to Italy just yet. In short, there was no hurry to decide, and anyway I had a few weeks to see how I felt about my future.
This wasn’t really sitting well with my mom. She and my dad still had the big, four-bedroom house in Atlanta, so I don’t think that space was the problem. No, the main problem was that she couldn’t believe that I wasn’t able to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I should know these things, shouldn’t I?
Anyway, about a week before the return flight, I remember her coming into my room, waking me up and asking me to make up my mind. “I have to take you to the airport, I have to make plans,” she said.
“Oh, don’t worry about me, please,” I replied. “I can just take the bus to the airport.”
“I can’t believe this. You have to decide!”
A few days later the scene repeated, her again at the foot of my bed. “I can’t believe you. You need to make plans. I have to take time off from work to get you to the airport!”
“Mom! I told you, I’ll find a way to the airport. Just let me decide, please. I still have a few days.”
Every day I was packing a little, preparing to go back, but also waiting for my intuition to kick in. So far it hadn’t. Maybe at the last minute I’d find a job in the states. I had shown my portfolio around a little. The morning of the flight, however, I was still undecided. I was relaxed about it, but mom was furious.
“I can’t believe how SELFISH you’re being. All I asked you to do was decide.”
She didn’t say anything new to me that morning, but something in her tone was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I was trying to learn how to trust my intuition, but I also had to find the right classroom for it. This wasn’t it. I promptly got out of bed, finished packing my suitcase, and we went to the airport after lunch.
We like to think of ourselves as independent agents of our destiny. My mom and I had thought that I had to make that decision myself. But in the end, we needed each other to make it.