Concept of decision or choice using a wooden boardwalk in dense forest in Great Dismal Swamp
Concept of decision or choice using a wooden boardwalk in dense forest in Great Dismal Swamp

By Molly Butler

Recently my brother got me playing the video game, Detroit: Become Human. The game takes place in 2038 and follows a similar format as those Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read as a kid. Players are androids, enslaved to humans. Through the course of the game players must make decisions, big and small, that can either lead the world closer to a utopia, or into chaos and war.

There’s very little playing in this narrative driven game. There’s a bit of exploring, some quick fight scenes, but for the most part, you’re just meandering the plot forward, making decisions. And that’s more than enough. The act of choosing is more difficult than we realize. In many cases, making a choice in itself is the only real task.

In the 1990’s, neurologist Antonio Damasio was studying the orbitofrontal cortex, which appears to house emotion. He found that “when certain parts of the orbitofrontal cortex are damaged, people lose most of their emotional lives. They report that when they ought to feel emotion, they feel nothing.” What happens when an emotionless person goes out into the world? Free of the messy tangles and illogic of emotion, are they super rational? Do they escape the cloudy haze of feelings and become super-efficient, logical beings? Very much the opposite. Their energy is completely drained with weighing pros and cons. There is no gut feeling to guide them. “They find themselves unable to make decisions or set goals, and their lives fall apart.”

The act of choosing is more difficult than we realize. In many cases, making a choice in itself is the only real task.

Zoë Kim, author of “Minimalism for Families” wrote, “We may be accustomed to lots of choices and new songs and stories, but that doesn’t mean we need, or even thrive, with so many choices.” Several studies have found that decision fatigue is a very real phenomenon: simply put, the more decisions a person must make in a period of time, the worse their decision-making skills become. The quality of their choices deteriorates. So even those small decisions we make throughout the day, what kind of coffee to try, what to have for lunch, how to caption our Instagram post, what podcast to put on, they all add up.

So, we know decisions are an emotional task, and those tasks accumulate and drain us. In a world where there are a million choices to be made, decide what decisions are even worth making. This weekend, choose your own adventure.


This is your last weekend to view the exhibitions by Reed White and Dana Sikkila at the Arts Center of Saint Peter. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday 1:00-5:00pm and Saturday 10:00am through 5:00pm.

Sticks & Stones of Mankato will have their February Pop-In Market, with giveaways, doorbusters, and a free necklace when you RSVP and visit in person or make a virtual purchase. Join them on their Facebook Live for deals on environmentally friendly, sustainable, comforting pieces. They’ll be open from 10:00am to 7:00pm Friday, plus 10:00am to 5:00pm Saturday and noon to 4:00pm Sunday.

It’s time for another Give a Pint Get a Pint! Head to LocAle Brewery in Mankato between 10:00am and 3:00pm to donate blood and receive a coupon for a free pint of beer. You’ll also receive a $5 gift card for entering. Head to the Red Cross Website to register.

In need of a laugh? Join VINE Faith in Action to answer the question, “What’s so Funny About a Pandemic?” Dr. Linda Good, who just so happens to be my grandmother, has been collecting memes, jokes and parodies about the pandemic and will share some humor with you. The event is FREE and will be live via Zoom from 2:00-3:30pm. Just register online to attend.


We’ve got games, games, and more games! MSU Men and Women’s Track NSIC Tournament will be held Saturday. The Mankato West Wrestling Triangular begins are 11:00am and West Girl’s Hockey starts at noon at All Season’s Arena. Gustavus Women’s Basketball will take on Concordia at 2:00pm and Bethany Lutheran College will host Women’s Track & Field UMAC Championships starting at noon and Men’s Basketball against St. Scholastica at 3:00pm.

Atlantis Hobby will host Flesh & Blood for prizes beginning at noon. Don’t know how to play? Their friendly staff are happy to teach you! Then Pulp Comics and Games will have Saturday Night Magic Fights beginning at 4:00pm with a chance to win $100.


Sunday is the last day of February, so make it count. Vagabond Village of Mankato has The Sunday Unwind. Stop in for Jazz, Blues and Discounts! There will be complimentary coffee and chocolate, BOGO deals and 30% off storewide from 11:00am to 4:00pm.

This is your last chance to enter the Virtual Edible Book Festival with the North Mankato Taylor Library. Winners will be announced March 1st on the Facebook Event Page. Categories include People’s Choice, Punniest, Most Edible, Child Prodigy, and Business Made.

Bonus: How to Avoid Decision Fatigue

  • Limit your options: Being asked, “Where do you want to get lunch?” is a lot more work than being asked, “Do you want to eat here or here?”
  • Get it Over With: The anxiety and thinking that goes into dragging out a decision is often more taxing than just getting it over with. Get big decisions done early in the day or as soon as they appear.
  • Have a Default: I’ve read that the most creative people have extremely boring lives. They do the same things over and over and have an established routine. When there’s little to no drama in your personal life or daily decisions, there’s more energy left over to play with. Having a “boring” default setting gives you something easy to rest back on when life gets hectic.
  • Pay Attention: Know your signs of decision fatigue. Are you spending a lot of time on something that should be easy? Are you rushing things that should get more attention? These are signs you’re fatigued and need to take a break.
  • Relax: Go for a walk, take a nap, or put on something you’ve already seen or heard before. Knowing when and how to replenish yourself is a superpower in a world that values productivity but not rest.
  • Outsource: A lot of us feel the need to say yes to everything and do it all, not realizing that we’re not doing anyone any favors in the long run when we burn ourselves out. It doesn’t matter if it’s another person, a schedule, or flipping a coin; releasing little decisions will preserve your energy for the big ones.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.