We talked about it yesterday on the drive home from Rockport.
He asked his husband and me, "What's the best decision you've ever made in your life?"
I have always dwelt more on the decisions I've regretted than the ones I didn't. By the time I was 25, I had 5 manuscripts -- every one of them about regret. The last of these centers around the idea that each of us harbors a Basic Regret . Every decision we make afterward is an attempt to justify -- if not actually redeem -- that one. It never works, of course.I consider the college years that inspired that story the single greatest experience of my life. It is what -- to borrow a phrase from Annie Dillard -- made a woman out of a girl. But it was a passive sort of decision, if you can call it a decision at all. I didn't even choose the school -- my guidance counselor did. I followed the instructions on the form.
Moving to Boston is easily the most important decision I made. Everything that I am today, all that I have achieved and experienced, came from that decision. I can't imagine who or what I would have been if I had returned to Virginia. I believe if I had stayed in Texas I would have made a life there, simply by following the path laid out for me, and I may have achieved many of the same things (in a different flavor) but I don't know that I would have been particularly happy about it.
I might consider that move to Texas my Basic Regret, except I know the reasons I did it were to justify other regrettable decisions; and that thread gets tangled when I try to follow it.
I thought we should define our terms. It is so Hollins seminar of me. What do we mean by "best" ? What do we mean by "made"?
In my INTJ mind, to make a decision is an investment of the most intellectually active kind. One reaches the decision the same way one proves an academic argument: by forming a hypothesis and proving it through research and supportive reasoning. (I realize not everyone does this. I use "one" here to avoid talking about myself so directly. That's the "I." I don't know what they do do, and don't care to discuss it. That's the "TJ.") So when I think of the category of decisions, they are those events; but few of them are milestones and none of them seem interesting enough to rank as Good-Better-Best.
The life-changing events like college and Texas, like entering student affairs and leaving it, did not get that kind of scrutiny. The 1996 sabbatical was a good decision. Maybe that was my best decision."And even then," I said to the Boys, "It wasn't the kind of decision you say, 'that was a good decision' about. It was just sort of a blind faith decision."
"I think that's what I mean," said Jay.
He's no INTJ, as you can see. That's why he's so good for me.