In ancient Rome
there was a poem
about a dog
who found two bones
he picked at one
he licked the other
he went in circles
he dropped dead
Freedom of choice


Jerry Casale, one of the founders of DEVO, has spoken about how the lyrics of this song are often misinterpreted … many think it’s about being free to choose, but it’s actually about people preferring to be told what to do in their lives.

Jerry goes on to say: The lyrics about the dog in ancient Rome who had 2 bones are based on an old Aesop’s fable about a dog that’s walking across a bridge with a bone in his mouth. He looks down in the water and sees another dog with a bone, and he gets so upset that he finally goes to attack the other dog and loses his bone. (

Be aware of the choices that are offered and try to focus on what really matters.

There’s too much crap and too many variations on crap
There’s too much shit in the world
That’s why prison is a great thing
Prison doesn’t have too many choices.

-RICH HALL, Comedian (The Glasshouse), ABC TV

We’re often overwhelmed with choice. Making the ‘right’ decision can be a complex procedure. I heard once that humans operate best with 7 choices or less, and I think this is true. Present 24 kinds of paper and decision-making becomes difficult. Present 3 choices and life suddenly gets a whole lot easier. Latte, cappuccino, flat white, long black, macchiato, fluffy chino, short black, ice coffee… No wonder I always order surprise coffee! I find it irrelevant to make a decision about what kind of coffee I want. I’d rather spend my mental energy on the bigger picture.

Decision fatigue can hit when presented with too many choices or too many decisions need to be made (like when you’re moving house or office!) Best thing to do is take a break.

I recently went car shopping. I test drove the first vehicle, and before I’d pulled away from the car park, I phoned my cousin Andrew, who knows cars, for a bit of advice. Was it ok to buy the first car I drove? It almost seemed too simple. But I felt obliged to soldier on. Four cars later, I purchased one. It was pretty much the same as the first one. There’s no doubt the decision seemed kind of protracted; every car had all the features I wanted and needed.

Choice is important for bigger stuff: housing, healthcare, education, food, money, voting, relationships, beliefs etc. My advice is not to agonise over the small stuff.

What decisions have you struggled with?  What do you find easy?


4 responses to “Choices

  1. I joke with my husband that he is lucky I am ‘low maintenance’ – I can walk past a shoe store, see a pair I like and am in need of, try on my size and then purchase them all under 2 minutes (did this recently!). I hate mucking around with choices… The wedding dress I purchased was the first I tried on. I was happy with the first car we looked at. I was even happy with the home we purchased by just walking in it and saying ‘Yep, I’m happy with this’. However every now and then I get stuck and I waste hours searching for – get this – the perfect invitation paper for my 3 year old’s birthday party. Or the perfect nappy bag. I get stuck on the silly, unimportant things!

  2. This is funnyto read this . Today a friend and I talked about too much choice in todays life. Years ago you bought a bottle of milk now days how many choices, Bread, brown or white? White or black coffee/tea? Choice is not always good. It is a time waster. I am like the lady with the shoes/ house but then shops for weeks to find just the right simple item then find it and decide I do not need the extra clutter.

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