The other day I stood at the stove to heat up the kettle for tea. I have the best tea kettle ever thanks to my husband who found just the one I wanted at an estate sale. The joy I derive from the ritual of filling that kettle, listening to the water start to move within it, and then hearing its gentle whistle summon me to pour a cup – well, it’s just a delight.
On this particular day I turned on the gas burner and then ran up the stairs to gather a load of laundry. When I returned, the kettle was cold, and the scent of natural gas was unmistakable. As I cracked a window or two to air out the kitchen, and relit the burner (correctly this time), I all but forgot about it.
Until….much later that afternoon afternoon when I returned to the kitchen and couldn’t figure out why I was so cold. I kept catching a draft and checking the thermostat.
But then I remembered…the stove…and the smell of gas…and the window I’d cracked. As I closed it, I muttered to myself unkind words about the heat seeping out of the house and the cold creeping in. Wasting money…wasting energy. All because of a barely open window.
The whole situation felt oddly familiar to me. Like this little episode was illustrating some bigger pattern playing out in my life. And then it came to me.
Lately I’ve been in decision overload. There have been Capital B. I. G. ones to wrestle down and seemingly countless smaller ones to shuffle through. I’ve been swimming in decisions. Making lists of them. Mulling them. Praying about them. Looking for signs. Or simply delaying them in the whirlwind of a million little tasks demanding my attention – things like lunch making and speech writing and permission slip signing and tax preparing and bedtime story reading.
All the while each unmade decision siphons off a bit of energy to fuel itself, like a little star gathering up energy from the universe to stay lit.
I call them open loops, these places where my mind just circles and circles over the same information as though it will magically rearrange itself into an arrow pointing to the perfect choice. Never happens, though.
Going over and over the same information while I complain that I can’t decide gets me nowhere. Do you know what makes decisions become clear? New data. Or a fresh perspective. Or simply a moment of trusted intuition.
Having unmade decisions in my life drains me. Like that barely open window, a decision not yet decided diminishes my energy no matter how much I try to conserve it. Until the decision is made, it gets fed.
But once the decision is made, a fresh burst of energy arrives to mark the occasion, like a reward for good behavior. It’s such a rush, that power of being sure, of moving onto the solid ground of action, of getting unstuck and moving forward.
I know this, and still, I wallow in indecision too often. So this year, I’m committing to being more decisive. To closing my open loops.
And to always being sure the burner is lit when I’m making a pot of tea.