In cases of second thoughts, there is no one, single, iron-clad rule. There is a case against impulsive decision making and a case against indecisiveness. The problem with this conundrum is that we usually understand whether a decision was made too quickly or not by reflection upon it later.
Some time ago, I needed to replace a worn-out chair. I mentioned this to an acquaintance. She advised not to buy another chair but have the old one refurbished. Ann recommended the services of her cousin Craig. She said her cousin was an expert at reupholstering chairs and sofas.
My budget was already strained, so the idea of saving money on furniture was appealing. I told Ann to contact her cousin. Craig arrived with his son that evening. He showed me some fabric samples, I decided on a course-weave, hunter green material. We then agreed on his fee. Craig promised the chair would be finished in about two weeks. Craig and his son then loaded the old chair into his pickup truck and they drove away.
To make a long, frustrating story short, the chair repair didn’t happen. I never saw the chair again. I didn’t file for legal damages because the old chair wasn’t worth the hassle. I ended up buying a standard gliding rocker from a local new furniture retailer to fill the space in the living room.
Many years ago, while hunting for a supplemental job, I stumbled upon the opportunity to work as a roadie for a local band. The idea of being part of the crew of musicians I admired was both exciting and intimidating. In order to accept the position, I would have had to quit my main job. I mulled over the pluses and minuses for about a week. In the end, I turned down the roadie job. Today, in hindsight, I don’t know if I made the right decision. There’s still a niggling doubt that perhaps I should have taken the roadie job that summer. I wonder how differently my life would have turned out. Did having second thoughts about the job prove beneficial or detrimental?
Sometimes I have second thoughts going into a scenario, but most often I have second thoughts after a decision has been made and the event has taken place. The after-thought isn’t quite a regret. It’s more akin to creating an alternate history.
I wonder if our personalities determine whether we err on the side of impulse or if we meander in the territory of second thoughts. I take after my father, who tended to over-think more often than make spur of the moment decisions. I notice my own overthinking after the fact instead of beforehand. This conservative comfort zoning is alarming. It’s a sign of old age, but not necessarily wisdom. However, it’s the safe way to go.
On second thought, maybe it’s time to let go and enjoy a little bit of youthful impulsivity again.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this thought from the late Francis George, a former Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. “So, in every case if you really love someone there is an element of submission to them because you want what’s best for them, and at times they’re going to tell you what’s best for them. Even if you have second thoughts about it, you’ll probably still do it because you love them.”