News is out that Amazon will be making a new Lord of the Rings series, and everyone I know is excited. But back when Peter Jackson’s adaptation wasn’t so old itself, I found myself in an interesting discussion about every girl’s heart-throb, the King. Was Aragorn really the way Vigo Mortensen had portrayed him? Was he really that wishy-washy?
One man in the book group (where this conversation took place) insisted that the movie portrayal was a disservice to the character. The cinematic Aragorn just couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to live as the king or not. But the real Aragorn – of Tolkien’s imagination – was courageous.
It wasn’t that Aragorn lacked the strength to make a decision, insisted my friend. It was just that future King wasn’t sure what was right. Once he did know, he could, and did, act accordingly.
This is a careful distinction, and one which authors Chip and Dan Heath consider in their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. (Well, they don’t talk about Aragorn specifically…) Continue Reading
I once went to see a specialist doctor – this person had been recommended to me and was given rave review, so I had high hopes. But after our first meeting, I started to wonder. He hadn’t read the results of my previous tests and bloodwork with care. He didn’t have answers to my questions about underlying causality. Instead, he shared with me his protocol for treating all patients: since I had already done numbers 1 and 2 on the list before seeing him, so now I could try number 3.
It wasn’t a bad protocol- it was actually very good compared to what other doctors had offered. And by all accounts, it was generally effective for many of the patients who went to see him.
But what struck me was that it really wasn’t personal. Continue Reading
If you happen to be in my kitchen looking for the cinnamon, you won’t find it in the spice cabinet. It’s with the coffee. And if you reach for a water glass, you’ll also see the vitamins. I don’t keep them in the medicine cabinet.
Since our kitchen also happens to be smaller than the average elevator, I’m not organizing it for anyone else but myself, so it’s pretty rare to have anyone confused by where to find the cinnamon, or surprised by finding the vitamins – but even if we did have a kitchen that could fit more than 1.5 persons, I’d still organize it the way I do.
Staying organized in your own space means putting things where you can find them, not where they “should” be. Many of us try to work with a system we learned in our childhood, or one we’ve seen work in our friend’s home, or one that an organizing expert insisted was the best. But a lot of the time, those systems just don’t work for us. Continue Reading
In my younger years, I spent a lot of time agonizing over all kinds of decisions: what I should study? Should I go to graduate school? Should I accept the job offer? Are skinny jeans really universally flattering? … the list goes on.
In truth, there are many decisions I still wrestle with, but I’d like to think that over the years, I’ve become a bit better at navigating difficult ones. (Migrating to skinny jeans? 5 years. This season’s wide-legged cropped trousers? Purchased.)
Decision making and discernment are actually a bit different, though: a decision has to be made when you have options to choose from: do I go to this university or that? Should I leave my current job or stay in it? Is cutting my hair short a good idea? Making a decision is a particular act.
Discernment, on the other hand, encompasses the whole process of making a decision. It can start any time you start wondering if something should be different, even if you can’t articulate what or why. Continue Reading