Friday, 31 December 2010

Decisions, Decisions

On revisiting the story of David Copperfield recently, I was reminded of the character of Mr Dick. When she doesn't know what to do, Miss Betsy Trotwood simply instructs Mr Dick to tell her. Mr Dick, in his amiable fashion, thinks of something. Whilst he may think of something much in the way that Winnie the Pooh might Think of Something in a bumbling, haphazard way, both, it seems, come about wisdom or the truth of the matter, without quite realising it.

We all need a Mr Dick in our lives. To turn to when, try as we might, having looked at it from every angle, we still simply don't know what to do.

"Mr Dick," I would say. "Tell me what to do!"

And Mr Dick would have a bit of a think, screw his face up in a pondering sort of way, and then he would tell me what to do. Simply, cleanly, sparingly. Thank you Mr Dick, I would say.

The mother of a close friend of mine used to advise her to make her decision before going to bed, and then see how she felt when she woke in the morning. If the feeling was good, she had made the right decision, the feeling bad or uneasy and she still had time to change it before it took effect in the waking world.

I tried it once or twice, but I could never quite fool myself into believing I had made my decision, when I knew I might revise it in the morning. It never felt serious or substantial enough to be a true decision.

Some would say there are no right or wrong decisions, just different paths. I am sympathetic to what they mean, but it is spectacularly irritating to be told this when one nevertheless has to decide something one way or another.

Of course, a Mr Dick abdicates our responsibility, and we are no longer children. As helpful and easy as it might be, do we really want someone else to be making our decisions for us?

So, off into the New Year for all of us. Decisions to make, people to see, places to go, things to do. Be proud that you guide yourself, that you are your own guide, arbiter and lover. And, to share the advice my father gave to me many years ago before a (musical) performance... If you are going to make a mistake, do it loudly, and as if you meant to make it!

Happy New Year


  1. What a lovely post! I think your friend's mother is quite right that we often have a gut feeling about it. In fact, far too often I find I've made my decision before I've had the chance to think about it, let alone talk about it...

  2. Hello Sandrine! Yes the gut/instinct/bones/waters (and all those other wonderful descriptions of it) is a powerful thing...the tricky bit's hushing all the hub-bub so one can listen to it clearly, don't you think? Happy New Year! E x