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August 31st, 2002
What do you want for dinner today? I can cook baked branzino or meatballs. Lio—one of Peni's best friends—didn't answer immediately. Then he just said, "I don't know." I insisted. After some time, he chose the fish but soon changed: "Better the meatballs."
I know very well what's wrong with him. It happens to me every moment. Choosing between such simple things can be torture for me. Sometimes, "I don't know" means "I don't care." In others, it causes great anxiety.
I remember when I was in a supermarket in Düsseldorf, Germany. I was looking for some eggs for breakfast. Numerous brands were on the shelves, but the variety caused me the most anxiety. I don't mean there were giant eggs and other smaller ones, white and brown. There were eggs from farms with less than 30 hens, which cost a little more than those with more animals. There were eggs of chickens that ate special food, another of chicken that only ate wheat, and others that roamed freely in the field eating worms. I just wanted some eggs for breakfast! I walked out of there empty-handed. I didn't buy anything.
Alex Korb says that having many options stimulates a brain's amygdala reaction. A lot of chemicals cause us to get anxious and worried. What if I choose wrong? By making one choice, I set aside the others. What would have happened if I had decided something else? I understand that the same thing would happen; I would think about the options I did not choose. Life is a garden of forking paths. If I take one way, I will never know what was in the others. Borges knew it.