Recently, my father told me a story.
When my grandfather was in his 30s, he was asked to buy a new mattress. To my grandmother, it seemed like a simple job: a one-hour drive to the local department store, two hours to choose the mattress, and another one-hour return trip. At most, the errand would only take half a day. Nothing too difficult, my grandmother thought.
It took my grandfather two days to return home.
Forty years later, it seems like I’ve inherited the same indecision. Here’s a small example: Recently, I spent 15 minutes debating over buying a chocolate bar. Snickers or Hersheys? My head whirred in concentration. Vanilla or chocolate? Crunchy or nutty? While juggling all of these variables, I failed to notice the distant rumble of my train leaving. Throughout my life, these sporadic moments of total concentration have been all-consuming, even around the most trivial matters. My very existence feels like a self-imposed multiple-choice quiz: every problem must be answered with either A, B, C, and D, with no room for mistakes. Perfection is key.
However, like the old adage says, “It’s not the destination that counts, but the journey.”
On that particular day, I finally chose to buy a Snickers bar. Was it good? Yes, it was. But as I chewed on the nutty chocolate, waiting for my next ride, it wasn’t the caramel goop in my mouth that fulfilled me; it was knowing that I had done the necessary research. It was knowing that I had taken the time to examine and learn all of my available options, before making a worthwhile choice. Coupled with the satisfaction of making a proper decision, I felt content. It was almost worth being late to school.
While moments of indecision great and small may be frustrating, they drive us to examine the world. When my grandfather finally decided upon a mattress, it was only after examining all of the 106 available options. Through this, he likely learnt more about bedroom furniture than an individual needs to know, but it was also this knowledge that enabled him to pick a proper mattress: a decision wrought out of time and debate. Centuries ago, Abu Bakr said, “Without knowledge, action is useless. And knowledge without action is useless.” Although time consuming, indecision pushes us to pursue this knowledge, enriching our perspectives on life.