Some things I have learned #19

Subtitle: Or, at the least, I think I believe

Sub-subtitle: Or, at the most, I believe I know

Note: A New Year’s resolution that I mightily will endeavor to keep!


Discern. From the Latin discernere, meaning, variously, to separate, to set apart, to divide, or to distinguish. Thus, discernment is the act of the intellect to perceive reality rightly. Applied personally, to discern is to know what is true for one’s self.

Decide. From the Latin decidere, meaning, literally (from de “off” + caedere “to cut”), “to cut off.” To decide, therefore, is to end consideration among a (any) number of choices by selecting one above all others.

(I digress to note a hard-won truth for me. To make a decision is simultaneously clarifying and confining. For whenever I determine to follow one course, necessarily, it means that I cannot proceed in another direction. And, no, I do not believe in multi-tasking, either in principle or in practice; which I have come to consider to be another form of procrastination. For whenever I have attempted to do a number of things all-at-once, I always have succeeded in doing none of them well.)

In my experience, though discernment and decision-making are inextricably related, they are not the same. For discernment, my discovering and claiming my truth, always precedes decision-making. Moreover, my discernment does not automatically lead me to a decision to act, but rather can direct me not to act (which, of course, in its own way, is a choice; to wit: I can discern, know that I am hungry, yet choose not to prepare a meal).

All this said, here’s another hard-won truth for me. The worst mistakes I have made in my life were occasioned by my having conflated discernment and decision-making. Moments when I made a decision, usually hastily, without having discerned what was true for me. Therefore, moments when I prematurely ended, cut off deeper, clearer consideration of other options. Therefore, moments when I, in deciding, lost sight of my truth – my sense of my personhood and my life’s purpose.

In 2021, I mightily will endeavor not to make this mistake!

© 2021 PRA

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