Living in Decision Purgatory

For almost a year I’ve been caught between two decisions: do I want to own a car or do I want to save money. If I decide to buy a car, it will be much more difficult to save money. If I save money, I will not be able to buy a car. These two ideas swirled around in my head for many months.

The point was that if I wait to get a car, I will be able to save more money for traveling. This, however, prevented me from exploring where I lived and kept me from going out. It essentially trapped me in the middle of nowhere with no transportation. On the other hand, if I decided to buy a car, I wouldn’t be able to save as much money. This meant less traveling in the future.

These two options caused an enormous amount of stress. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to buy a car or if I wanted to save money for traveling. For most people, the car is the obvious choice. I wanted to travel though, and that desire was stronger than my need to drive.

Whenever my friends went out, I got stressed. I asked for rides as rarely as possible and didn’t want to hassle anyone. When there were celebrations in my city, I stressed because I wanted to go but I couldn’t. Some nights I just wanted to go out and drive on the freeway, just to clear my thoughts, but I didn’t have that option.

The idea of buying a car and giving up my dreams of travel was also too great. My friend from Denmark would call and I wanted to go visit her, so I would get stressed. Friends of mine would take a vacation to Europe, again I would get stressed. Even seeing photos of faraway places stressed me out.

It sounds stupid but I was alway stressed out. The decision should have been simple but it seemed too complex to tackle. If I chose one, I was sacrificing the other, and that was too much for me. Instead I chose to procrastinate and save money. I could buy a car whenever, if I saved money. Still it bothered me.

Enter 2015. Eight months of being stuck in decision purgatory. Even talking about traveling was stressful because it reminded me that I still had not made a decision. Trying to coordinate how to volunteer was becoming difficult as well. So I decided to that it was time to make a decision and I realized something.

In most cases, it doesn’t matter what we choose to do. Most of our decisions are trivial and don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t really matter what you wear on your first date or if you drive a Chevy or a Ford. It doesn’t really matter if you choose to paint your walls blue or red. All these decisions sound silly and simple but when you’re confronted with them, they can seem complex.

If you paint the wrong color, it could ruin the room’s atmosphere. You could have to buy more paint, which costs more money. It also take time to paint. If you make the wrong impression on your first date, you may not get a second. These things are stressful. Making decisions is stressful.

But making a decision is sometimes more important than what you actually choose to do. If you spend months trying to choose a color for your living room, you’re wasting time. Just pick one and live with the decision. It’s better to choose than to live in decision purgatory.

For me, I’ve decided to buy a car. I want to get out and experience my local area. I’ll save as much money as I can for traveling but I’ve decided to make a decision and live with it. There wasn’t a “right” or “wrong” choice. Instead of worrying about it, I’ve moved on. Sometimes it’s just better to make a decision and just live with it.


Find a Penny, Pick It Up!

Luck is for people who believe in serendipity and superstitions, or so I thought three months ago. There’s no way that a piece of “copper” can bring fortune! It wasn’t until I dodged an accident in my car without brakes that these thoughts started to change.

Every few days I pass by pennies laying on the ground, discarded as worthless by walkers in my neighborhood. Perhaps in shame, Abraham Lincoln’s profile often faces up looking indifferent to this neglect. Each time I see this brown glint in the sun, I awkwardly rerouted my path to grab the 1¢ piece.

In late May I left out of my room for work and found a penny on the walkway. In that afternoon I offered to drive a friend home after we finished our shift. My old car, which had no previous maintenance issues, decided to take one last heaving breath and die during rush hour.

My friend and I were just before the freeway entrance and on a bad road. I was slowing down at a red light when my Buick stalled. Immediately upon stopping, I shifted to park to restart the car. As if bemoaning its own fate, it grumbled and turned but it wasn’t having it.

While I was coming to a stop, my brakes froze and wouldn’t depress. There were cars in front and behind of me impatiently trying to get home despite my car’s inability to slow. Luckily, I was in the outermost lane, with enough time to come to a stop and pull into the grass.

With admirable effort from my friend, we managed to get a tow truck within an hour or two. The chaos of breaking down didn’t wear on us as we reacted to it. The weather was hot and humid but we managed to make the most out of the situation.

A few days later I thought about the penny I picked up that morning. Physically, that half-inch of metal didn’t prevent a crash. It sat in the pocket of my work uniform and joined in on the ride. What it represented was so much more than 1 cent.

Every time I found a penny after that, I paid special attention to my day. I realized that my life was filled with blessings I had never paid attention to. The mechanic called me later that week to tell me my baby Buick was done for. I found a penny that weekend and a funny thing happened.

While my car was sitting at the auto-shop, a drunk driver crashed into it and smashed a door in. Interestingly enough, he never directly impacted my car. The drunk driver hit another car (a whole parking space away) with enough force that it slammed into mine. This meant insurance would cover my car and I would have more money to buy something new. I’m also glad to report that the driver had no injuries!

At this point I became a little superstitious. These tiny coins invaded my pockets and suddenly everything started to look up. I discovered that these pennies represented a mindset. They gave me hope for a wonderful day and gratefulness for what I already had. Small positive acts suddenly became apparent and I loved it.

Some days can be rough, life is certainly full of surprises, but I’ve found that there’s certain triggers that remind me to stay optimistic. While everyone has their own way of being grateful, pennies have invaded my life and reminded me to be appreciative of what I have.

After discovering their meaning, I’ve started placing the pennies back out on the sidewalks. Maybe you’re going through a rough day and these pennies will give you hope that your day will change. They could remind you, like they have for me, to be grateful for what you already have. Or, at the very least, they put a few extra cents in your bank account! Whatever the case may be, don’t walk by that penny: when you find a penny, pick it up.