Monday, June 25, 2007


In the mid-90s one of my favorite comics was Impulse by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos. The series starred a teenaged superhero with superspeed who was known for being impulsive--perhaps not the best character trait for someone who can act in an instant on a whim to buy Chinese food... in China. This is, of course, what drove the humor of the book.

I am generally not a very impulsive person, at least not in my day-to-day life. If it's not in my plan for the day, it's generally too much trouble. Maybe I'll fit that spontaneous trip to the park in next week.

When it comes to major life decisions, though--schooling, career, marriage, children--I can be pretty impulsive. I can honestly say that I don't regret any major life decisions I've made, but I often think back on how quickly I've gone from one plan to another, like when I switched from the English PhD track to the MLIS track. Granted, I had a bit of external motivation for that change in the form of two rejections, but still I made the mental hop from one camp to the other rather quickly, considering that we're talking about what I'll be doing for the rest of my life here. Similarly, both times Foxy and I decided to get pregnant, the decision came in the form of an epiphany of sorts after a period of not wanting to have a(nother) child. Both times we... ahem... acted on the epiphany pretty immediately (though if I recall correctly, with Little Dude it took us a month or two before we succeeded).

Again, I don't regret these impulsive decisions. I don't regret pursuing an MLIS instead of a PhD, and I certainly don't regret either of our children. Nor, for that matter, do I regret the decisions to marry or to separate, though both were made at least a little impulsively. Therapist says that he always knows what the right decision is--the thing is he usually doesn't know until after the fact. The right decision, you see, is always the one you've made. That doesn't mean that the next time you're faced with similar options the right decision will be the same one; it means only that the decisions you've already made are the only ones that could have led to the present reality of your life, and it's fruitless to say that reality is "wrong."

With that in mind--the fact that there's no point in questioning past decisions except in so far as what you learn from the questioning might inform future decisions--yesterday Therapist and I talked a bit about my propensity to make major decisions on impulse. What it comes down to, we concluded, is that I tend to get excited about new ideas and want to test them out NOW. While some people live in the past, I live in the future, always anxious to make whatever new future I've envisioned happen ASAP. This isn't a bad thing, per se, but it's a good idea for me to be aware of it and temper my actions accordingly, particularly when other people are involved.

As it turns out, Impulse eventually learned to temper his impulsiveness, at which point he changed his name to Kid Flash. Then last year he grew up and started calling himself Flash. And then last week he died.

Take from that whatever moral you want.


Th. said...


Lesson I get (reinforced once more): Never become a Flash.

ambrosia ananas said...

"The decisions you've already made are the only ones that could have led to the present reality of your life, and it's fruitless to say that reality is "wrong."

It's such an interesting idea. Because there are things I've done that I know, absolutely know, are wrong. And yet . . . I wouldn't be who or where I am without them, and I'm happy with the who and the where. So it was right to do wrong? Or just not as life-altering as I thought? Or it was life-altering, but there are still good things on any given life path?

I just avoid thinking too hard about past decisions and focus on future ones instead.

Bewitched Librarian said...

I'm an impulse buyer. I have a lovely pair of spiked, red, strappy heels that I've worn once.

Miss Hass said...

I am similarly impulsive with many life decisions--major and minor--and tend to live in the future. I know I should focus at least a little more on the now and be more careful; I just haven't figured out how yet...

-L- said...

The idea that the right decision is the one that we've made and that it's fruitless to go back and wrestle with them bothers me deeply. Just thought I'd say so. I think there's more to it than just learning for the future.