Monday, February 3, 2014

Back to the Mall

Every morning this week when I woke, I saw the red sweater hanging on the closet door. It was too big, and the easiest way to get my money back was to head to my local mall, except my local mall is the Columbia, Md. mall where the fatal shooting occurred last Saturday.

Let me start by saying how sorry I am for the families involved. I think somehow our society has failed all of them, and that's all I can think of saying about that for now.

That day I'd considered returning the sweater that day, but I didn't, mostly because I was lazy and my son wanted to read some train books, and I wanted another cup of coffee, and like many people I know who could have been there but weren't, I'm terribly relieved.

All week I debated when to go back to the mall, if at all. Maybe I would just use UPS. Suddenly a decision that normally was a half-second of my time became something I ruminated about all week. If I went to the mall, would something else happen? If I didn't, would that make me a coward? I dithered, struggled, and it was exhausting. I finally went back this weekend and returned the damn shirt, but I still felt like a coward. I browsed the watch section of a department store (I don't often wear watches!), then fled out the door.

If violence makes small decisions like whether to go to the mall or not seem like a huge deal, what becomes of the decisions that are a huge deal: decisions about work, marriage, real estate, cars. Those decisions can paralyze us in a world where our small decisions can carry such weight.

So many people I work with feel like they should be able to make their career decisions quickly, act on them, and always be progressing toward a goal, but it's normal to hesitate in our world. Frankly, I think it's the most human reaction we can have.

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