I was reminded today of a dicey trait that I have: I am impulsive.

I won’t go into the details, but I’ll say that this reminder involved calling a family member when I knew perfectly well I had breakfast to make and an appointment immediately following. Rather than schedule a later time to follow up with this person, I pressed the “call” button without hesitation, and was late for my appointment as a result.

While not such a big deal, this called to mind other times I have been impulsive, such as when I drove to Wheeling, West Virginia in an epic ice storm on a Sunday night to visit a girlfriend, with homework due the next day, back in college; or when I spent nearly three grand on a life coach before I had a place to live; or when I drove to Bloomington, Indiana by myself to audition at one of the most competitive music schools in the country; or when I packed up everything I owned in a 1993 GMC van and drove down to Nashville.

Come to think of it, most of the decisions I’ve made in my life have been pretty impulsive. This is not to say that every single decision I’ve ever made was on a dime – but a fair number of them were.

I heard, or read, somewhere once that every single action is made suddenly, even with great amounts of forethought behind it. You could plan a move for weeks, months, or even years, but when the time comes to make the move, you either make it, or you don’t, and you decide to make it, or not make it, in an instant.

Could it be that every life is made up of a series of impulses? That planning and strategy is a mere illusion? That at the end of the day, whatever we accomplished was by accident?

There really is no counter-argument to this theory, or reason to believe otherwise. How can we really prove that a decision made really has anything to do with what came before it? Yes, we have experiences and patterns, but when it comes down to the wire, I can decide to break any pattern at any time. I can surprise myself.

Looked at in this way, a “life driven by impulse” does not always have to have negative connotations. In a way, we’re all living by impulse, one day, one moment at a time – provided we are free agents.

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