I’ve got more important things to do.

Surely I do. I must.

That would, at least, make sense of the way I eat. I’ve been puzzled about this for awhile. I eat in a decision-minimizing way. Here are some of the obvious implications.

First, I eat/drink things in the unit sizes they come in. I drink “a cup” of coffee, for instance, and I might have that (I’m at Starbucks, anyway) with “a bagel” and “a package of cream cheese.” The opening bell rings and I start the project. I keep on drinking the coffee until I’m done; I keep on eating the bagel until I’m done. I do make an exception with the cream cheese. Even though it comes in a package (1.5 oz), I use only as much of it as necessary to grease the path of the bagel. [1]

It took me a little while to think of an alternative. It is “some.” So rather than drinking “a cup” of coffee, I drink “some” coffee. That doesn’t eliminate the problems, of course, but it does change their form slightly. But back to the solution side. I could eat “some bagel;” obviously just how much bagel is not specified. That would be the point of the change.

The same logic flows from “a steak” or “a sandwich” or “a beer.” If the project is to eat/drink “it” and “it” comes in an amount that has no necessary relationship to how much I want at the moment, then I would have to make decisions that are independent of the packaging, rather than consenting to the decisions that are implicit in the packaging. And whose decisions were those, I might ask in an idle moment.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

You might think that I am inventing a problem just for the pleasure of solving it, but that is not really the case here. The easy way to deal with this is to eat when you are hungry and to stop when you are no longer hungry. And for people who are tuned to those feelings, that it, I agree, a perfect solution. It doesn’t feel like “making decisions” any more than “deciding” when you have scratched an itch long enough feels like a decision. You just stop at the right time without ever making anything you would call a “decision.”

That’s not how I do it. It is not how I have ever done it. The food winds up on my place—packaged or served—and the bell announcing the beginning of the project sounds (I am imagining the bell, of course) and I start moving toward the finish line. It’s not fast or slow by definition; but it is complete or not yet complete. Sounds pathological, doesn’t it?

What I feel I get from this is the freedom to think my own thoughts or to engage in whatever conversation I am in. I am free from the intrusive stream of questions I would otherwise have to be asking: am I still hungry, what do I feel like eating more of, did that do the job, should I keep on eating/drinking? [2]. I am free to have whatever internal conversation I am having or to participate in whatever social conversation I am having untroubled by the need to make all these decisions. As I implied in the title, I must think I have other things to do that are very important.

This plethora of decisions is replaced by the much simpler, “Am I done yet?” This question is cued up nicely for me by the unit. Have I finished “the sandwich?” is easy; “have I eaten enough sandwich?” is hard. “Have I drunk my cup of coffee?” is easy; “Have I had all the coffee I want right now?” is hard.

I must think that what I would otherwise be doing is incredibly important for me to accept all the costs of not deciding things. That’s not how I experience it, of course. In full project mode, I just begin and make progress and complete the project (the food is gone) with no unnecessary distractions.

It’s sad, really, but it would be a lot of work to change.

[1] This is not as different as you might think from what I would do at home if there were a dish of cream cheese on the table. I would put an amount on my plate and from then on, it would be just like the package. That is how much “there is to eat.”
[2] I see that I am bypassing all questions of whether the tastes and textures are pleasant and interesting. Those are important and I do attend to them, but they don’t help me with the decisionmaking stresses, so I am passing them by this time.

About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsy. I'm a dilettante.
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1 Response to I’ve got more important things to do.

  1. Michael Hale says:

    I was going to say that you could deal with the “eating/drinking all of ‘it'” issue by ordering/using a smaller size of “it” (smaller glass, smaller can, 1/2 order, etc.) but to do that you would have to make all those specific decisions instead of just accepting what portion is served to you. Do buffets buffet you because you have to decide how much to take of each of the things that are on offer?

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