Decisions, Villages, and People Watching

This is legit a thing. They have a website.

I finally caved. I had to watch Grey’s Anatomy. I put off the premiere for almost a week. Afraid that once again, it would take over my life. And it sort of has. At least it’s only available once a week. It could be available on Netflix. My productivity levels would be D.O.A. About halfway through the episode, an incredible moment happened:

“We’re all going to die, we don’t get much say over how or when, but we do get to decide how we live. So do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love?

Is the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate?


Breathe in.

Breathe out.

And decide.

The waiting can kill you. You make a decision and then the world has to turn. The consequences unfold, out of your hands. There’s only one thing that seems clear in those quiet moments while you wait, whatever you chose was wrong.”

I will not spoil it by telling you who said that, why they said it, or if someone died just in case some of you have yet to make friends with your PVR since the episode aired. But this thought struck me deeply.

It sounds horribly morbid, thinking about the fact that we are all going to die. But so is the fact that I took a course on “Death and Dying” last semester. But it’s a fact of life. Death is a fact of life. That just sounds oxymoronic.

So if generally we don’t get to choose when we die. And all we can do is choose how to live. Then why do we spend it worrying about what can go wrong. I spent the day today worrying about all the things I had to do, rather than just starting to do things.

Nope, I laid staring at the ceiling last night, tossed and turned my way through the early morning, and then waffled between plans for date night this week trying to maximize work time. And then I got on the bus to come home and my iPod shuffled to Louis Armstrong. And instantly the world calmed down. And I became a productive… ok you caught me. I had a nap when I got home, but then I was productive. And then got distracted mowing my lawn and weeding. I mean studying ecology and environmental studies?

In my defense, I finished everything anyways.

I will eventually figure out a way to spin off watching Grey’s as an educational activity. Studying anatomy and medicine in case I change my mind on psychology? Sounds good.

Before it seems like I am going to come full circle back to my post two weeks ago about living your life and forgetting about the “shoulds” and “what ifs,” I swear I’m not. What stood out for me, wasn’t exactly living life to the fullest and loving people to the max. It was the moment where Weber starts to talk about decisions and being the best you can be, and asks a lot of questions about if this is the you you want to be, if you could be kinder and more compassionate. Which really resonates with me for several reasons

1) I often suck at making decisions. For the exact reasons this quote points out – I don’t want to choose wrong. Yet here I am, poised to make some of the biggest decisions of my life. Decisions that will decide where I am going to be for the next 6 or more years and where I will end up. Decisions that will be largely out of my hands. I have chosen a program that is more competitive than med school. So the odds of me getting in aren’t really in my favour. The odds of me getting to choose between multiple schools even slimmer. It’s going to be a bumpy ride the next six months, but I am sure by the end of it some decisions will have been made.
2) I am a people watcher. I LOVE riding the bus, because there are so many interesting people to watch. Back when I was driving to Credit Valley Hospital every day, I used to love driving up the 401 and watching the planes taking off and landing – imagining where the passengers were going or coming from and why? Were they happy or sad to go? Happy to be back? Do they have a family waiting to pick them up? Or is their family with them on the plane? Or is there going to be a taxi driver taking them to a random hotel?
I do the same thing on the bus. I love to watch and wonder. It’s more entertaining when you can actually see the people, especially when they’re not aware you’re watching. Oh God. That sounded so creepy. I swear I am not some sort of crazed window peeper. I just mean when people don’t know they’re being watched you can see more of the real them. Or you can see that they have retained the adolescent spotlight effect and are clearly always posing.
Problem is that I’m not always kind in my thoughts. A lot of it comes from what I’m going to pass off as being a female in a society that values appearance above all else. Which is sort of it. It’s also sort of on me though. I won’t tell you some of the thoughts, but don’t even try to tell me that you never have ill thoughts of random strangers on the basis of appearance or current behaviour. I will psych student you into the truth. I know someone who is trained in hypnosis and has access to a polygraph machine. I know.
Whenever I catch the thoughts I try to chastise myself. Tell myself I need to be nicer. After all, for all I know, someone is judging me the same way. And I would hate to be judged on my sweatpants days. Or the day last week I got on a bus still in my dry-fit. Or the days I forgot to put on make-up and was so tired I looked like death warmed over. And it’s not like I sit around thinking nasty things about everyone, but I really shouldn’t be thinking those nasty things at all. So can I be kinder? Yeah. I’ll just be the only one that knows.

3) I am generally content with who I am. I know I am strong because it took a hell of a lot of strength to make it through some of the stuff I made it through. And yet hearing that – I thought can I be stronger? My Achilles tendon and IT band certainly think so. Really, this just reminded me that I need to remember that I actually am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. In the moments where I am panicking, thinking I can’t handle something – I need to remember what I have done so far. I know I’ll be happy with the person I am working towards being, but am I happy with who I am? I don’t hate myself. It just never occurred to me to think about whether or not the me I am today is the person I want to be right now. I am so used to thinking in the future. So it kind of reminded me to think of both the future and my present. Being miserable with who I am now for the sake of who I want to be just doesn’t make sense.

4) I come from a “village.” Which isn’t exactly a village, but it still has the small town atmosphere. You know – people say hello to each other when they pass on the streets, you’re not afraid to leave the door unlocked while you go for a 3 hour hike up the hill, and neighbours will ask each other for a cup of milk or an egg and that’s totally cool.

And yeah, I might be looking with my retrospective rose coloured glasses. Or maybe this sort of thing only applies to the smaller area just outside Barrie that I come from. But here in Ottawa, I would never leave my front door unlocked even if I’m only going out for a 20 minute run. When people walk by my house while I’m outside, I avert my gaze, out for a walk I don’t say hi to people, and when my parents are here and say hello to people I look at them like they’re crazy.

And I ask myself – is this the me I want to be? I still say thank you to the bus driver every time I get off and good [insert time of day here] every time I get on. I hold doors open for people, while most people seem to be in too big of a rush. But I am losing my soft spot for homeless people, I am afraid to say hello to random people, and I seem to be morphing into some hardened city slicker. Is that who I want to be? Or would I rather be the slightly quirky city person, that occasionally stands out like a sore thumb, but at least still has the values and behaviours I was raised to have?


So. I need to learn to make a decision, and be cool with someone else making the decision. I need to edit my thoughts and be nicer. I need to think about me now and be happy with that before I think about future me. And I need to hold onto that trusting and caring part of me that was born and bred in the village. Even if it means being known as the girl who sometimes says strange things. Like “up shit creek without a paddle.” Someone please tell me that’s not a village saying.


This is legit a thing. They have a website.

This is legit a thing. Apparently this store is somewhere in England.

Where you can buy this.  Legit.

There’s even a website. Where you can buy this.



  1. See villages are just as important as cities..after all who else but a villager would think to invent a paddle for life’s little the village has some pretty smart people..until they do something crazy like go to live in the “big city”..proud of my villager daughter!

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