Friday, May 11, 2012

What do you do?

"Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?  "~ Memorable quote from the movie, "Speed"

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for action movies, at least for some of the time. As much as I enjoy a period piece (usually starring Kate Winslet or Keira Knightly) or a romantic comedy, there is something about the adrenaline that comes from imagining yourself right alongside Bruce Willis in "Die Hard". You wonder if all of the the pieces in the puzzle will come together to make for a perfect heist and a clean getaway. You envision the perfect blend of cool, sexy, brilliant and quick mindedness to be with James Bond. In an everyday life of bill paying, parenting, housework, home maintenance and other mundane chores, being in a completely impossible situation, so outside the norm of driving kids to school, gives you the freedom to wonder how you would make the best decision possible, in the most extraordinary series of events, and all would  be well in the end.

There's a great line in the movie, "Speed", in which the insane, resentful former cop, Dennis Hopper, is trying to extort money from the LAPD. In an unbelievable (or believable only in Hollywood) series of events, Keanu Reeves, plays the brash young cop willing to jump aboard a hijacked bus, filled with both hostages and explosives, in order to save the day. Save the day he does, of course, being 'our hero'. And yet, I couldn't help but wonder at Dennis Hopper's pop quizzes to the 'pup' of a newbie detective. He put Keanu Reeves' character into the position of making instantaneous decisions that impact not only his own life, but the lives of others.

When it comes to real life, it's awfully hard to make a decision on the spot for most people. I think that I can relate to the snap decisions of Hollywood's glorious heroes because I'm a snap decision maker myself. I'm a "go with my gut" instinct kind of decision maker. I rarely weigh options. I never make pro and con lists. I think about my choices for a nanosecond and I make up my mind. I rarely regret the decisions I've made...even if I have to acknowledge that the ramifications led to a learning experience. I recently read that more than 80% of American adults have a great deal of trouble making choices. These decisions can range from large ones (such as a potential spouse or the purchase of a home) or small ones (such as what to serve for dinner). I was flabbergasted by this statistic, and yet, I can appreciate that decision making is challenging. No one wants to make a mistake, and therefore, is stymied from moving forward. Any choice, this piece went onto say, is potentially wrong, and thus, decisions are put off indefinitely. 

Both of my children had very big decisions to make this year, regarding their futures. I was on pins and needles for them both. I was desperate to know what their choices would be. They, on the other hand, were rationally, calmly and logically proceeding to eliminate what wasn't going to be a good fit, and factor in what would be the best option for their respective futures. I was wanting them to dive into the deep end of a choice, head first. Why? Because that's how I've always done it. I have learned something very important from my young adult children: waiting isn't the worst thing in the world...waiting can help a person solidify her rationale in making a decision or investigate his alternatives thoroughly before committing. I respect this process more than I can say. I just get itchy, living with the unknown...perhaps that's why I find it so easy to relate to the snap decision action heroes: they don't have to mull over colleges or cities. They just throw themselves into the action.

The past month has been a time of growth for all of us. I have learned to appreciate a more measured, analytical decision making process. I still am the impulsive one in the family, and probably always will be. But, I can appreciate a judicious deliberation now too. And yet, at the next fork in the road in my children's lives, I'm scared I'll turn into a virtual Dennis Hopper once again, and over the walkie-talkie, ask, "Pop quiz, hotshot. What do you do? What do you do?". 

I'll just try very hard not to use explosives. 

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