Agonizing Decisions that Take Us Nowhere

Sometimes the most agonizing decisions — decisions that are supposed to take us in a new direction — end up taking us nowhere at all, and we wonder why the decision was so difficult.

As I mentioned before, a friend talked me into joining an online dating site. I didn’t want to do it — I’m not ready for any sort of serious relationship, and maybe never will be. I’m still getting to know this new “alone” me. She pointed out that I dialoguedidn’t have to sign up to meet a new life mate, but could specify “friendship.” That seemed reasonable. I am always interested in making new friends. And since I spend so much time alone, I especially appreciate having people to do things with.

Still, it took an entire sleepless night three weeks ago to make the decision. And it was the sleeplessness that in the end made me realize I should take the step. If the decision was so unimaginable that I couldn’t get my mind around it, I figured it would be good for me to make that leap. I know what is imaginable. I’ve imagined it. But a whole world lies beyond my imaginings, and to get where I need to go (a place that is as yet undefined since it lies in the realm of the unimagined), I need to do the unimaginable.

So, I signed up. Spent a lot of time working on my profile. Told my current truth as well as I knew it and as charmingly as I could. In one of the sections I wrote:

I am happy, kind, confident, intelligent. I smile a lot, laugh easily, seldom get angry, and appreciate those same qualities in others. More than anything, I love learning, meeting new people, sampling new foods, trying new activities. The desert fascinates me, so I spend a lot of time hiking in the nearby knolls.

I’ve lived a quiet life — mostly reading, crafts, watching movies, writing. Now I’m interested in being more active and trying out all the things I haven’t had a chance to do before — dancing, bowling, miniature golf, hiking, archery, whatever comes to mind. I’d like to lead a more adventuresome life in a non-perilous sort of way. Even going to lunch somewhere I’ve never been could be such an adventure. What would make all this more fun is to have someone to be adventuresome with.

I’d planned to blog about my encounters, both online and offline, in case there were other older people out there taking a hesitant dip into the dating pool, but there have been no encounters. I figured the site would be like a social networking site, where people messaged each other, trying to get a dialogue going, but nothing is going on except that several dozen people have checked out my profile. Like a middle school dance, the boys seem to be milling around, checking out the girls, while the girls just stand there, trying not to be caught checking out the boys but hoping someone will notice them.

Since I’m not one to just stand around and wait (at least, not anymore), I’ve written dozens of messages, but no one responded. It’s possible the men on the site aren’t computer savvy and don’t know how to respond. It’s possible they aren’t interested. It’s possible they are waiting for inspiration or waiting to fall in love with a photo. I have no idea since no one is talking.

To be honest, I’m okay with this. I don’t particularly want to date, don’t want to flirt with the possibility of falling in love. I do feel silly, though, about spending a sleepless night, steeling myself to make what turned out to be such a non-momentous decision, but perhaps the decision was the important step, and what has come after is trivial.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

5 Responses to “Agonizing Decisions that Take Us Nowhere”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    It could be that. And I like your comparison to a middle school dance. But at least you haven’t met that creepy dude who thinks he’s a lady killer and gets creepy when he gets rebuffed.

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I think I would be too scared to sign up, and then if i did, I say something intentionally to make sure nobody ever called.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s exactly why I signed up — because I was scared. In a way, I have the best of it — I signed up, but don’t have to deal with anyone since no one messages me or responds to my messages. I feel a bit as if I was tilting at windmills.

      Maybe all unkowingly, I said something to make sure no one called.

  3. Kathy Says:

    I think that is often the case – that the act of doing something is far more important than any anticipated results. I often pursue something thinking it will lead to one thing and it takes me totally to a new place.

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