Too Many Choices Suffocate a Soul

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” Isaac Newton

The door chimed my entrance as the acetone fumes welcomed me inside.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like a pedicure please.”

“Pick your color.”

Red. Red is all I wanted. You know how many shades of red exist on the polish wall? Too many.

I picked one, then another, and one more. I tried all three on my nails. If I’d only seen the first, it would have been good enough. But now I knew that something better might be out there. Thus began my search for the best red.

My quest for the best begins to cripple my soul.

I told myself to walk away from the wall. Pick a shade. Be done, girl. I picked Cajun shrimp, which wasn’t actually red.

“Ma’am, which pedicure would you like?”

“I’m sorry, what do you mean?”

“Well, we have the hot stone pedicure, the lavender scrub pedicure, the orange peel pedicure, the ……… pedicure.” She listed about 7 different types of pedicures, and I wanted to laugh. Instead, I answered as kindly as I knew how, “I just want whichever one is like a normal pedicure.”

She proceeded to explain all the differences between each one and my brain began to spin. Now that I knew something potentially better existed I was terrified of making the wrong choice. Can one have buyer’s remorse over a pedicure? If so, it will be me.

“Ok, which is the least expensive? I’ll take that one.”

She led me to the chair and placed a remote control in my hand. More choices. What type of massage would I like? Full body or shoulders only? Hard or soft? What channel would I like to watch on the tv? Or, if I prefer, there is a stack of magazines to choose from at my side.

By the time my pedicure began, I felt mentally exhausted from decision fatigue over choices that made no difference in the quality of my day, life, or eternity.

It didn’t stop there. I stopped by Lowe’s to buy light bulbs. An entire aisle of choices. I just wanted standard bulbs. Plain and simple 40 watt bulbs. I couldn’t find them. Then I found them. But they aren’t the same anymore. There are LED, soft light, natural light, bright light, dimmable, classic styles, funky styles. Oh. My. Word. I just wanted light bulbs.

I realized I am at a decision-making breaking point when I began converting a storage room into a writing room for myself. Do you know how long I spent deciding what color to paint the concrete floor? I’m embarrassed to tell you, so I won’t. I chose white. Then the wall color. White again. Then the back and forth or what if I don’t like it.

I stopped in my favorite store in Omaha. It’s a pop up shop called Rush Market. This store speaks my language because the deals are out of this world. I walked in and the white desk sitting in the hold section beckoned me. I asked the clerk if it was sold and was informed the lady holding it had just passed. I put my name on the tag and continued shopping.

As I meandered through the store, I found another desk. Oh no. Is this one better? Do I stick with the first one? I sent a picture to Steve and my sister. They chose opposite each other. That only made the decision more difficult. I asked the clerk to switch out the desk. I changed my mind.

I continued shopping but the entire time I mentally turned over the two desk choices. Then my sister texted me to go with the same one Steve suggested. Oh no, I’d already had the clerks move the desks around the store once. I can’t believe I did this, but I got those ladies again and apologized that I’m beyond indecisive and humiliated at my own shenanigans but could they one last time switch the desks.

Then I quickly paid and left. At this point I realized something must change. This internal choice debate has gotten out of control. I can make important decisions quickly and easily. But these smaller ones consume me.

Everywhere I turn I’m faced with decisions I really don’t care to make.

I like simple. Simple. Simple. Simple.

I think all day long. I think more than I need to. I don’t want to think about things that don’t matter because I think too much about the things that do matter. And my brain needs a break.

During the course of the day, I can only imagine how many choices I’m making without realizing I’m choosing. I have to think all this mindless choosing is fatiguing my mental capabilities.

Am I choosing well when it really matters? Or am I so worn out on the insignificant choices that by the time the choices that really matter need to take place, I’m out. I don’t care. I’m decisioned to death.

When my kids come to me and need my help making a decision that is important to them, am I quick to brush it aside because I’m mentally spent? When I’m deciding on the best use of our time that evening, do I give little thought because I’m over capacity. I’m mentally tired because all day long I’m choosing and making decisions that are bit by bit wearing me down.

By the end of the day, I’m with the ones I love the most, and I’m so tired I don’t want to make one more decision.

So I think I have another decision to make. Can I find a way to simplify the daily choices that are in my control?

I stood on a stool in my closet reaching for a shirt. Andrew came up behind me. “Mom, what are you doing?”

“I’m about to try a different shirt on.”

“Not surprised.”

After he left my room, his words lingered. Not surprised.

Of course mom is trying on a different shirt despite the fact that she has one on which is perfectly fine. She is afraid she might not have made the best choice in shirts. She needs to be sure she chose the perfect one. What if the temperature changes from the forecast? What if she needs to save the one she is wearing for a different day this week?

I remember a blogger I followed about 7-8 years ago. Her blog was titled One Dress Protest. For one whole year, she wore the same thing every day. Summer, spring, winter, fall. She chose a black dress that she could put leggings under in the winter. She could add a scarf or a necklace to change up the look.

It was part statement and part protest on her behalf. I don’t really know what her goals were, but her idea appealed to me. I was just never brave enough to wear the same thing every single day for a year.

So you know what I did last week? I tested it out. I chose my very favorite shirt. Black, cozy, can be dressed up or down, can even be worn with athletic pants. One shirt, one pair of jeans, one pair of athletic pants. That was it for 3 days.

I don’t think anyone noticed. I mean I live with all males, so they wouldn’t notice. Besides saving myself 30 minutes in the closet, mentally my morning felt clearer, crisper. I felt empowered rather than wearied at the start of the day. I was ready for the decisions that mattered because I simplified the ones that didn’t.

What is one thing that you find daily stresses you out to decide on? Clothes, dinner, activities? Is it social media? Choosing what to read, what to land on, which platform to spend your time scrolling on? Is it possible to choose the way of simple if even for a time?

Maybe you give yourself a break from that one thing for one week. For me it was choosing one outfit for a few days. For you it might be drastically different. I imagine in each of our lives, there are areas we could simplify by eliminating our choices.

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” ~ Frederic Chopin

Maybe we’ve bought into the notion that more is better. Maybe there is something to the theory of “less is more”.

Maybe we become more of who we really are when we courageously walk in simple steps along simple paths.

Because you know what? I’m not really the grumpy grumbler who emerges from the closet amongst heaps of discarded choices. If the constant choosing is creating in me someone I am not, maybe that is a hint from my soul that one small step toward simplification could be all that is required.

Maybe when we choose the simple path, removing stuff and clutter and choices, we are finally able to see the beauty that has been buried alive.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried with the weight of too many choices and decisions that don’t bear their own weight in importance.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried by the debt to create the Pinterest perfect home.

Maybe parts of our soul have died under the suffocation of the pursuit of the best choice for fear of failing in some area of our life.

Maybe a step to the reviving of our soul is to stop allowing choices, and decisions, and stuff to clutter our lives.

Maybe it can’t be forever, but maybe our soul would find relief from a simple reprieve from the daily grind of too many insignificant choices.

Maybe this is the break we need to clear the clutter in our minds in order to see the simple beauty of life. To allow ourselves to awaken to who He created us to be. Maybe our greatest expressions are found when we walk and live in simplicity.

And really, what do we have to lose if it’s a failed experiment? If you are brave enough to choose one area to eliminate choice and decision so you can simplify your life and choose well in the areas that matter, I’d love for you to share the results with me.