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To Choose or Decide. Which will you do?

The new year is fast approaching, which means that it is time for both reassessments and future planning.

What will you choose? What will you decide?

There is a difference.

Most people use these words interchangeably, but look at them more carefully:

The word decide shares the root -cide with a number of others: Suicide, - homicide - , genocide.

To -cide means to kill. When you de-cide, you kill. You kill them all off: Not him, not her, not that, and not that other thing, either. So the last one standing is the one. Buy default: Ok, I’ve de-cided.. I'll take this one - the one still standing.”

It is entirely rational. Each murder is perpetrated cooly, based on evidence (which is sometimes just justification) for your de-cision. Sorry, opinion/option/potential way of being gets killed off:

Bang bang, I shot you down / bang bang you hit the ground.


A choice, on the other hand, is different.

To choose is to select freely, after consideration. So it follows that in order to select freely, one must first and foremost be free.

And to be free means to be free of fear.

Most de-cisions come as the result of fear:

  • “I can’t do this because I might fail.”
  • “I can’t do that because I might lose money.”
  • “I can’t do that because I’ll be criticized.”
  • “I can’t do this because I’ll look dumb.”
  • “I can’t do that because I don’t have any experience.”
  • "I guess I'll do this because it seems like the most logical thing to do (even though I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I shouldn't)"

A choice disregards all of that monkey-mindchatter, all that bullschnitzel and relies on only one justification, which isn’t even a justification at all: I choose because I choose. Period.

No justification is needed. I might fail, I might lose money, I might be criticized, I might look dumb, and I most certainly don’t have any experience. But this is my choice. It is MY choice, and I accept full responsibility for making it.

I choose because I choose.

When you de-cide, you escape responsibility:

  • “I didn’t want to buy it, but the broker said this stock was going to go up.”
  • “I didn’t want to, but my parents said I should go to college.”
  • “He kept talking and talking but I couldn’t get away from him. I couldn’t think of an excuse.”
  • “I didn’t think it was right, but Ron Paul said I should take over the Republican Party and support his son.”


To de-cide is to abdicate responsibility. The safety in de-ciding is ultimately that you can blame someone else if things don’t work out the way you expected. It is a way of keeping the upside while radiating risk. If things work out, great. You're a genius. If things don't, you can always blame your broker, your parents, society, Ron Paul, etc. It doesn't matter who. The only thing that matters is that it is not you. "It's not my fault! I swear!"

To choose is to take full responsibility for your own actions. When you choose, the buck stops with you. This is what I chose. I don't need any reason or any justification. I chose because I chose.

It is an incredible burden to take on that kind of responsibility. Ask yourself honestly, are you able to do it? Most people can't, which is why most people don't. Instead, they choose to de-cide instead.

As the New Year approaches, please take some time to think on these things.

To choose or de-cide. Which will you do?

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Michael Nystrom's picture

Oh, I see, you wrote it for yourself

You were in Taiwan still at the time: December 10th of last year. I can't remember where, exactly.

But this must have been some kind of plea to the universe. Anyway, I guess it was a message.

Think on these things is a damn important book to me.

Now your books are scattered into disparate boxes. Oh! Painful it is for me to be separated from my books. To not know where they are.

I am a book hoarder. This is a repeating patters. I hoard books, which makes moving time a bitch. I have found so many fabulous books on the streets of Cambridge, when the Harvard and MIT kids head for home. Books? Heavy - not going to bring them home, or ever read them again! FREE!

The Cambridge free box. An American Classic. I should take pictures.

- - -

Righto - I got the distinction. Decide vs. Choose. Roger.

But I've got a third thing going on: It feels like machinery is in motion, and I am a rider. I can see where it is going, and how it is going to end, and there is nothing I can do about it. Like when you drop an egg in the kitchen, and you see it, falling to the ground. And you know exactly what is going to happen, and there is no way to stop it.

What do you do then?

I think the answer is obvious. You follow your heart.

I want to follow it back home to Seattle. And wouldn't you know it, they just passed a $15 minimum wage.

In the end, this could be a psyop as well. She. The councilwoman. The election went down to the wire, and she won.

And now, as a result, the City of Seattle, which just happens to be this years Superbowl winner, becomes the first city to raise the minimum wage. This will put pressure on other cities to "be like Seattle" and the Superbowl winning Seahawks.

- - -

So, to recap.

Since deflation is winning, the Fed desperately needs help inflating. Hey! Here's an idea, FOMC, why not just double the minimum wage? The Fed talks to the President, who says his congress would never go for it, and the bankers say, "There is another way."

"Have you heard of Freud's son, Bernay

King of propaganda. We've heard the story of how he got women to think smoking was "cool" in the 1920's... Couldn't the same methods be used now, to make the masses just as complaint? Times have changed; surely their techniques have as well.

The psy-op achieves the same end, via different means. All the major municipalities will have to match Seattle. And voila. Suddenly the entire country's minimum wage is up to $15. And that bumps everyone up, all along the whole value chain. Surely the bookkeeper, who was previously making $15, now is worth at least $30!

The Seattle Psy Op. Somebody remind me about this tomorrow.

He's the man.

Chilling, all this talk of killing!

The whole process is entirely rational. Each murder is perpetrated cooly, based on evidence that you use as justification for your de-cision. Because the evidence is the reason, there is no personal responsibility. The cause is clear. You didn’t have to do anything. It is the evidence that led you to all the murders, your singular rational conclusion, your final de-cision.

allegory - ˈalɪg(ə)ri/ - noun - 1. a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.


If it is either/or decide or choose then those limitations are dogmatic.

Invention, adaptation, creativity, can be a decision and then a choice.

I decide not to choose between the lesser of two evils, for example, as Liberty can be my way of inventing higher quality and lower cost options.


I decided, but it wasn't my

I have decided, but it wasn't my choice.

Never be afraid to ask simple questions.

Interesting book title.

Php 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Christians should not be warmongers! http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance87.html

if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice


“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

jrd3820's picture

Do you make decisions or do they make you?

And again... how do you even know if it is a decision or a choice until after the fact?


“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

jrd3820's picture

How do you know though?

How do you know the difference? I understand that there IS a difference. But how do you know when you are making decisions or choices until after the fact?

Hindsight is 20/20. 2013 was pretty decent for me, made a lot of good choices and was about as happy as could be expected. I made one decision, it was absolutely made out of fear and it was absolutely deciding against something else. I didn’t know it at the time though. I thought I had made a great choice or decision. Thought it was the answer that I had been looking for. Not that I took the easy way out. Because it wasn’t easy. It definitely wasn’t logical. In that decision, I wasn’t just chopping away. I was blindly thrashing about with machete and anyone in my way was met with a polite smile and a ‘Yeah, that’s nice, I’m going anyways. Thanks for your concern though.’

There are 2 reasons my time China ended in such fanfare. Fly by night, post haste red eye out of the country. There were the family issues at home and the issues with my boss, but if I am going to be completely honest…. It was bound to end in dust and rubble no matter what. It was a decision against reality. I think I even knew it at the time. Usually before I leave for a new adventure I am really excited. The night before I left for China I was physically sick. Sick to my stomach. Spent the night throwing up. Convinced myself I had ‘food poisoning.’ Must have eaten something funny. I had been eating toast, oatmeal, and poptarts just like usual.

I’m so impulsive. I make decisions too quick. Then I feel claustrophobic and trapped....stuck in a moment if you will, when in all reality I was just trying to find a decent melody. I agree with you. Leaving when I feel trapped is a good quality. I am happy I am able to recognize when I feel trapped and know when it is time to go. But it would be better to just make the right choices and not have to make some sort of grand exit that ends in apocalyptic flames. I have gotten so good at leaving that my friends tease me about mastering the ‘midnight door note.’ The note scribbled on scrap paper, taped to the door, that says ‘Hey, thanks for the couch. It was fun. Time to go though.’

Funny, those notes used to be much longer and get shorter and shorter every time.

I don’t know what is going to happen in 2014. I hope I get it right. But I never seem to know until after the fact. I don’t know if I am deciding against reality because I don’t even know what reality is any more. I don’t know if I am making choices or decisions or if I
am making them for myself or for others. Its all such a blur.

Here’s to 2014. Deep breaths.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

Michael Nystrom's picture

Most interesting, jrd.

I think the difference has to do with fear, motivation, and who takes the blame.

Decisions are usually made from a place of fear, and are based on some kind of external evidence. "This isn't really what I want, but I probably can't get what I want, so I'll take this because it is probably the best I can do..."

A choice is something that is pulls you forward, and is motivated from within: "This is what I'm going to do, no matter what, come hell or high water."

With decisions if something bad happens, it is never your fault. With a choice, you know and understand exactly where the buck stops (with yourself), and why.

Anyway, that's what I'd say, but of course in the real world it is all so much more complicated. I didn’t know it at the time though.

That makes things more complicated! Could you have known it at the time? Were you hiding something from yourself? There is no point in crying over spilt milk, or beating yourself up over anything, but I think that is a question that is worthy of asking, only so you get to know and understand yourself better, which is what the whole wonderful, beautiful, loving journey of life is all about.

I think it is important to make the distinction between decisions and choices, so you know when you’re making one, and not the other. I’ve been in the machete thrashing place you describe, determined to do what I was going to do. I made a series of bad decisions. But in the end, I wound up in a good place, a place I never would have gotten to in any other way.

It was all part of the journey. Just know that everything is unfolding as it should. You’re young and you have a flair for drama. That fulfills something in you that needs to be fulfilled, for now. You’re noticing that, and that is good. When you get your fill, the ‘midnight door note’ phase of your life will be over. It will be a season that you will look back on fondly, with a measure of nostalgia and compassion for that lovely young impulsive woman.

Above all, just love yourself and pay attention to yourself as you make decisions going forward. You’ve got something of a roadmap now. You’re learning who you are and how you operate. That is what makes the 20’s difficult, in some ways. You have to build your map.

Here's a poem that comes from a book, but first time I read it was in an email that Samantha sent me, maybe 9 years ago now, before we were married, when we just started dating.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

Here’s to 2014!

p.s. not to mention a lot of this turmoil is probably part of your Saturn Return!

He's the man.

I will decide to choose. :

I will decide to choose. : )

Great article.

To decide or not decide.

Well Mike,

I've decided to have a wonderful adventurous life. I will fill my life with travel and lots of new acquaintances.

I will stay in the moment and shed love and light on my fellow man.

I will bring the best out in myself and be a great example to all humans{ if I can find any } .

Finally and foremost, I will pick my friend up at the airport when he calls.

Love and light Renato

Michael Nystrom's picture

Chose or decided?

I think you've made a great decision, but it sounds more like a choice.

Chocolate or Vanilla, friend. Remember that? If not, I think you're about to have your memory jogged here pretty soon.

You have found at least one human for whom you have served as an incredible example.

Thank you. I'll call you when I touch down, friend, and looking forward to it!

He's the man.

Getting back to the "roots".

Nice. If more able minds were able to assert their connotative understanding from a denotative foundation, maybe our language would not be so ineffectual today. Thanks.


A whole slew of unloving circumstance pushed my pal this week to the real thing, learned today of his suicide. Blinded by the housing crunch he lost 2 of his investment houses last year, and was having trouble keeping his overly mortaged life long home afloat. He was working at age 72 daily taking down huge trees with his crane truck, but could not keep up with the banks, he could have decided to go bankrupt, but chose to work his way out. The straw that tipped his cart was a neighbor who beotched about his yard and upkeep. A willing city and their enforcement codes pushed him pass the point of sanity. Like Cilente says when people have lost much they are going to loose it. I'm crushed and will miss him. I tried to encourage him way too many times, just too much weight crushed the spirit.

Ramblin Randy

TwelveOhOne's picture

So sorry for your loss

I apologize if this observation is "too soon", but: I find it incredibly refreshing that, when pushed past "the point of sanity" he chose to not take any other souls with him.

I'm crushed that he chose to stop fighting. That is horrible, he should not have burdened you and perhaps many others with dealing with this hole in your lives. But it's his right to stop, when he wants, not when the rest of us want.

I wish we had known about it before it became the heaviest burden for him -- but I question whether I would have contributed, after all, it would have been a choice with incomplete information ("if I don't he will die" and even then it's not clear that if I do, he will live).

I am so sorry for your loss, Ramblin Randy. Please, if you can, talk to someone impartial about it; I've found therapy incredibly helpful, not just in general but also specifically for helping to heal (and/or deal with the results of) my concussion.

I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
http://fija.org - Fully Informed Jury Association
http://jsjinc.net - Jin Shin Jyutsu (energy healing)

He Went Quietly...

I did lunch today with a friend, and my pal commented that it's no wonder he didn't drive his crane truck thru the 2 room city hall building. At least that way his passing would have made the nightly news and the local paper. Seems that the little town is try'n to push his passing under the rug. No news story in the paper, nor any obituary.

Not sure about that deal about going to Hell if you end your life. I'm sure the neighbor who complained about his yard upkeep, and the code department will have a few visits this Christmas eve from Jacob Marley and friends.

Ramblin Randy

TwelveOhOne's picture

I would be willing to contribute to spread the word

If you think a Kickstarter (or other funding site) would be useful here, to spread the word in that town about what happened, I will contribute. (E.g., fund an ad in the local paper; an ad on a local station (radio and/or TV); mailers; door hangers, and the salaries to pay those who hang them; "survey takers" in local malls, who don't really gather much information, they tell the story to everyone who passes; etc -- many ways to skin this cat.)

Something happened to me a month ago that will not appear in the papers due to the connections of the perpetrator. I might post about it, but not yet.

I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
http://fija.org - Fully Informed Jury Association
http://jsjinc.net - Jin Shin Jyutsu (energy healing)

Michael Nystrom's picture

I am really, very, very sorry to hear that.


He's the man.

You have my Sympathy

I'm sorry for your loss and the loss to your community and it's all very sad.. very.. deep sigh..

I chose to buy more silver

Decided not to buy trickcoins

this reminds me of

the book Blink. Go ahead and amazonify if you want.

What have I done and what will I do. I suppose it is all a mixture. Perhaps pay more attention to what my gut says. Right now I just want to get out of the cold.

this is an interesting post, Michael

Etymological analysis often leads to deep insights. And it's fun.

Another interesting game to play is gematria. You use some kind of system, it doesn't really matter which, to convert a word or a phrase to a numerical value. Then you find other words or phrases that have the same numerical value and try to find relationships between the two. Jewish mystics use this with the Hebrew alphabet to find all kinds of supposed deep mystical insights, such as secret names of God and what not. If you have ever seen the movie Pi, Darren Aronofsky's debut feature, this is used as a key plot element. Of course, there are no deep mystical meanings in any of this, it's just to form new connections in your brain for a deeper understanding.

Anyways, I will try to come back and comment specifically on the connections you have made in this post. Peace.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

Pi was an excellent movie

..I'll have to recommend that on that movie thread...

"Of course, there are no deep mystical meanings in any of this, it's just to form new connections in your brain for a deeper understanding."

There are of course deep mystical meanings... In the movie the radical Kabbalists chasing the Jewish mathematician were not worthy of these deeper meanings, whereas the free-thinking mathematician was. There is a deeper meaning, and if there is not, then what is it one can have, as you put it, a "deeper understanding" of?

The "deeper understanding", is the "mystical meaning".

i.e.- "Life is journey, not a destination..." - Aerosmith, Steven Tyler (another decent Jew, btw)

Are you a POT or a PET - Person Embracing Tyranny?

Let's see

Gimme both.

"Freedom Is A Road Seldom Traveled By The Multitude." - Frederick Douglass

I can't decide so

I will choose

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Perhaps I Will Decide Not To Choose..

When one is in in the objective state of mind there are no choices nor decisions to make..

'To be or not to be' that is the question. ~ William Shakespeare


decision revision :D

Perhaps "de-cide" is like de-ice.

Perhaps I'll remove the dead weight from my life.

Perhaps then I'll be in a better mind to choose well.

Michael Nystrom's picture

To decide = To cut off

decide (v.) - late 14c., "to settle a dispute," from Old French decider, from Latin decidere "to decide, determine," literally "to cut off," from de- "off" (see de-) + caedere "to cut"


Yeah man! Cut off that dead wood. Lose that dead weight. Melt that ice. Scrape it off the old windshield. Clear the decks. Create the clearing.

It is much easier to choose when you have that clearing.

He's the man.
Michael Nystrom's picture

Choose = seek out, select

choose (v.) - Old English ceosan "choose, seek out, select; decide, test, taste, try; accept, approve" (class II strong verb; past tense ceas, past participle coren), from Proto-Germanic *keus- (cf. Old Frisian kiasa, Old Saxon kiosan, Dutch kiezen, Old High German kiosan, German kiesen, Old Norse kjosa, Gothic kiusan "choose," Gothic kausjan "to taste, test"), from PIE root *geus- "to taste, relish" (see gusto).


He's the man.

So, is this what you mean, Michael?

Deciding is like carving out a statue from a block of marble, while choosing is like looking for a statue that someone else already made? :)

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus