Bad Decisions

I had stomach pains most of the afternoon yesterday and even though I lay down for a couple of hours, they didn’t budge.

These are the kind of pains that make you think you were in a boxing match and took a lot of body blows. They emanated from the top part of my stomach, so being a man (idiot) I figured I could just walk them off.

So instead of doing something sensible, I grabbed my camera and drove the 45 minutes to downtown Tampa to see what I could capture.

I remember about half way down when my pain seemed to be getting worse, I talked myself into continuing instead of turning around and heading for the comforts of home.

Because of parking restrictions, I ended up parking about a 20 minute walk from where I wanted to shoot and initially those steps gave me reason to believe that I could indeed walk this off.

Shoot-wise, I imagined talking some slow exposure shots of traffic in the downtown darkness. They always look neat.

But I was there too early and the sun hadn’t even gone down yet. So I figured to see what the setting sun might do behind the ever-raised Cass Ave rail bridge.

I stood there taking unappealing shot after unappealing shot as the skies refused to oblige me with any color worth capturing. And my pains were now at a level where I really couldn’t bear to stand still any more, so I hoisted camera up in my arms and headed back for the car.

Aborting a shoot is something I almost never do, so I recognized immediately that I was in some health-trouble. This was not good.

As I painfully retraced my steps to the car, about half-way I looked back over my shoulder and saw the beautiful reds that had come out of hiding as soon as I left my post. So, I hurried close to the river-walk and snapped a few shots which I include here at the end of the blog.

Yes, it was a gorgeous scene, but I missed most of it.

I continued to the car, sweating profusely and was so glad to get there that I momentarily got a false-positive feeling of being OK.

It was only when I drove to get back on the interstate at Ashley Drive, that I realized the trouble I was in. I never throw up. I just don’t. But as I got onto 275, it became clear that the convulsions in my stomach were not going to be tamed.

So I pulled my shirt up from its normal tucked in mode and proceed to empty with force the contents of my stomach. While the shirt was actually the only good decision I made, it still managed to get everywhere.

And so I drove home with a combined feeling of ignomy, embarrassment, and a genuinely ill-feeling.

That I managed to repeatedly throw up while driving in the dark on a crowded interstate at 50 to 60 miles an hour, while not hitting anyone, was simply put a miracle.

We have a saying in Ireland that “the devil looks after his own” and apparently he was guiding my steering wheel last night. I felt so faint that I nearly passed out behind the wheel, and my vision became a mix of blur and swimmy to where I couldn’t really see where I was going.

But I have traveled that particular stretch of road enough times that the lanes were well know to me and I somehow made it to I-4 without dying in a wreck.

Morgan took care of me when I got home and she even managed to clean out the car, poor soul. No one should have to do that for another person. But love is love and we do things for people we love that we would never do otherwise.

So, the good news is that I am still alive and this is not being ghost-written by one of my “fans”.

I feel completely drained and will take a very slow day today to heal. It is almost certainly a case of bad food-poisoning and having followed all of Toria’s telephone instructions, I am comfortably ruling out COVID for now.

But this morning as I slowly ate some plane bread and butter with black coffee, I mused over the sequence of truly bad decisions that I made yesterday and that’s what led me to wanting to write this blog.

I should clearly have never left the house yesterday evening. I should have turned around when half-way down there and gone home. I should not have parked my car so far away from where I wanted to shoot. When I left the bridge area, I should have walked directly to the car and not be distracted by the red skies behind me.

I should not have tried to drive home but stayed parked safely until whatever happened, happened. I should not have gotten on the interstate in the dark, with fast moving traffic all around me. I should have found a place to pull in when the first wave of throwing up was about to start. I should have recognized that I was about to pass out and that I couldn’t see safely enough to continue driving.

But no, being singularly focused on what I wanted to happen, I completely missed what was happening!

Our lives are filled with moments of decision. We make hundred of decisions every day from the simple to the important ones.

It is very important when we are making an decision that we do so from a sound basis in fact rather than a wish or intention.

From eating that one more cookie, even though we are full, to drinking that one more beer even though we know we are driving; decisions abound.

Bad decisions are what leads to mistakes. Not being able to fit into your jeans without an overflowing muffin-top isn’t likely to cause your world to end. But climbing into a car when you are anything but sober, certainly can.

None of us are perfect and some of us are a lot less perfect than most. So, thinking that you are an excellent decision maker is conceited and one that is likely to blind you to realities that you are faced with.

When I am clear-headed, I often refer to the practice of asking yourself what would you advise your friend or loved on to do. In other words, to put some objectivity between yourself and the decision. This approach will often lead to better decision making.

Being objectively positioned on any decision is almost always the best vantage point from which to determine which decision to make.

There are factors (such as stomach pain) that force our hand in bad decisions. For example, haste is a big one. So too is a biased interest in the outcome. Influences that force our hand should be called out for what they are and discarded if at all possible.

I remember many years ago taking management accountancy courses in Canada and being exposed to the guiding principle that past expenses should never be considered in whether we should proceed with something as a future endeavor. But it is exactly that failure that makes the gambler decide whether he should stay at the table when he already thousands down.

So too our decisions that have nothing to do with money. Recognizing the factors that might distort our ability to objectively something is critical to decision success. Do we stay in a relationship with a partner that beats us because we had some lovely years with them before the first punch landed and we hope for things to return to how they were?

The obvious answer we would guide our sister or friend is that minutes from that first punch, you should have your bags packed and be starting a new life somewhere.

But do we make that same decision for ourselves. “Aaah, but he didn’t mean it. He is under such stress and he loves me.”

I have reviewed my own decisions from yesterday and can pretty much guarantee they will never be done again. I know why I made each decision and what the factors were that persuaded me to do so. That allows me to build on the experience and adjust future situations where similar situations might arise.

Analyzing your decision making is a very good process to put your brain through. Look at some of your bad decisions and see what led you to them. If you are still under the same influences today, then you are very likely to have learned nothing and inevitably will repeat the errors.

OK, I am heading back to the sofa now. Time to lay horizontal for an hour or two.

Have a wonderful week and try to make only good choices … just a thought!