How We Decide

A few years ago, my uncle died suddenly in Indiana. The funeral was in five days.

I was 600 miles east in Washington, DC. And the ticket would cost about $2 a mile. I went a few rounds with the airline, but the price wouldn’t budge.

I didn’t know how to decide. That was serious money. I scrubbed my stove top, ate an apple, cleaned the bathroom mirror, ate another apple.

And somewhere in there, I saw that fear was winning the day. My fear of spending too much money, of not having enough money had eclipsed what really mattered to me.

For 10 years, Bill Watterson wrote and drew Calvin and Hobbes. Then, in 1995, with the cartoon’s popularity soaring, he decided to stop. He wanted more time to be thoughtful and less pressure to compromise his work.

Mr. Watterson had laid out his philosophy five years earlier at the Kenyon College Commencement.

“With each decision,” he told the crowd, “we tell ourselves and the world who we are.”

If I didn’t go to my uncle’s funeral, I’d be telling myself and the world that fear and money mattered more to me than family and showing up.

And that just wasn’t true. I bought the ticket.

A decision boils down to one question: What matters to me?

Our answer is a chance to do what matters.

Our time in this garden is brief. Decide what matters. Do what matters.

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