Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today's Medicine: Choices and Yearnings

The Morrow Tree - Mat Holmgren

Having a few hours to myself, with no-one in house but me, is a thing to be cherished. You'd think that I'd get more of that sort of thing, especially since I am not working outside of hearth and home. Yet I find myself savoring the quiet energy of snoozing dogs and cats almost as much as the cup of Crumpet Shoppe tea I am sipping.

Choice has been on my mind these days. And how often I avoid making decisions because it means taking one path over another and my perceived notion that I will miss out on something marvelous on the road not taken. Don't get me wrong, I love my life and most days I'm pretty connected with a deep sense of gratitude about my life. Much of the time I feel pretty confident about my choices and I'm at peace the consequences that come from them. Yet I do have my moments of doubt, or at least wondering what might have come from a different choice. When I visit a home with lovely antique furniture and NO CAT HAIR, I pause to notice the longing in my heart for the same in my own home. Reading travelogues often triggers a sense of yearning for the freedom to pick up and leave my life behind. The wicked glance from the laughing eyes of a stranger can make me pause and ponder my relationship with my beloved of twenty years. Each of these moments show me the hidden yearnings of my heart, as well as make me look at my life as it is now. How to accept and embrace the longing is becoming a daily practice for me.

So often I see choices as an either/or concept. These days they are all about how I want to shape the life I want to live. Do I want a fulfilling job or tend hearth and home full time? Do I want to tend the land and my childhood home or do I want to wander the country in an RV with my beloved? Do I want to put my time and energy into deepening my spiritual practices or explore new ones that resonate? When faced with these questions, all too often I dither, put off and tell myself that I'm "working on it." It's hard to separate out the heart of the matter from the brain that wants a clear cut answer. I'm fascinated how some decisions come easily and quickly and others take some sorting. I guess it just depends on where I am in the process. Sometimes I need time to consider the choice and really think about what would be best. Other times I need the time to find a way into peace with a choice that is not comfortable at the moment but necessary for the life I want to live. Basically, I need to talk myself into it because I'm really good at being obstinate for no really good reason, which really doesn't work so much anymore. But that's medicine for another day. 

I think there are several things that I need to remember when facing choices, especially difficult ones. One is that I don't have to face them alone. Not only do I have many loved ones that will lend their ears and share their thoughts, I have the support of my ancestors, guides and guardians. I may not hear always what I want to hear from them, but that's not their job anyway. Sometimes an outside perspective is super helpful in finding my way to the best choice. Second, in many cases it is rarely an either/or choice. Options usually abound and there are layers in any choice. Can I look at an either/or choice and see the gray areas? Doing this might help me find some movement when I feel stuck and unable to move forward. Third, remember what works, what tools have worked in the past when I've made choices that feel really hard. For me, this means making lists of options and possible outcomes, talking with trusted friends and family, doing divination and giving myself permission to have a hissy fit if it's needed. It's amazing how letting myself be angry and frustrated can move me toward acceptance and a good outcome. I highly recommend it. 

I also think it's super important to notice when yearnings come up and find ways, even small ways, to bring them forward into my life. If I want that house with no cat hair, maybe I need to bring forward a practice of vacuuming and sweeping more often than I do now, as well as choosing to have fewer cats next time around. If see photos of foreign lands that make my heart vibrate with happiness, perhaps I should get some to put in a place where I will see them every day. If that person with a wicked smile flirts with me, then I can flirt back and bring the giddy heart home to my beloved. Or keep it to myself and give a secret smile when he asks why I'm so happy. 

And with that, I think that I am off to make a card with one of my favorite quotes by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. When faced with choices, and the confusion that comes with decisions making, it's helpful for me to remember these words: 

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

1 comment:

  1. We continue to be in sync in our processes - I was just writing last night about false dichotomies & how they hold me back (work vs just about everything - going back to work doesn't have to mean I never have time for myself or fun etc but it sure feels that way sometimes). Yay for third options! (and fourth, fifth, etc...)