Posts Tagged ‘choice’

i remember about twenty years ago being in a bookstore looking at cards.  i came across a card that had the poem “risk” by anais nin on the front.  it read:

“and then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

i remember the moment i read that…being blown away.  her words really spoke to me…it was just what i needed to hear at that point in my life.  what a  validating idea…that there is risk either way.

blossoming takes courage, self love, self acceptance.  you have to be willing to open up…you have to be willing to be vulnerable.  everyone will “see” who i really am…what if they hurt me?  what if they reject me?  what if i’m not good enough?  i think, earlier in life, i had it backwards.  i felt i would come to a place in which i would know i am good enough, know that no one can really hurt me…that no one can touch who i really am, that some might reject me, but i won’t and there will always be some who don’t.  i felt i would know all these things first…then blossom.  that way i would feel safe to blossom…there would be no risk.  what i was realizing back then, after doing a lot of “work” on myself already, was there would be no time when i felt all those things until i blossomed…and that would involve risk.  there would be no safety net that i could see.  i would just have to free fall into myself…and trust i could fly.

or i could choose to remain “tight in a bud”, which might seem comfortable and familiar, but i don’t think it’s a sustainable way to live your life…i think it eventually becomes too painful.  choosing to remain “closed up” can lead to a life full of pain and confusion…never seeing ourselves or the world clearly, never showing ourselves,  or the world, the beauty of who we really are. what a shame it is to never let the world, and people who love you, see who you are inside…see your light.  what a shame it is when someone never sees the value of who  they really are.  unfortunately i think many of us think our value comes from what we “do”…what we can “do” for others.  but the truth is, we are here to be who we are…who we really are…and do what we love…what we really love.  and by being brave enough to embrace our truth and live our lives authentically…we inadvertently “give” others the courage to do the same.

i have heard some people talk about taking the steps to grow, or live authentically, because they had to…it was that or literally die.  that in a way, it wasn’t a choice, but a necessity if they were to keep living.   i feel i can relate to that idea…in my own way.  i feel like, in a way, i never made a choice.  this is who i am.  i have this drive to grow, to keep searching, keep looking for the truth.  i am very grateful that is who i am.  it hasn’t been the easiest road, but so very necessary for me.  what choice did i have?  i refuse to die or live in shadows.  i refuse to not try.  i refuse to believe that life and people are anything but good.  it is really what i believe.  and i also know, that while both choices involve risk and pain, the choice of not growing, in the end, would be much more painful for me then the risk and pain of choosing to grow or blossom.   growth can be painful…but i know i would have never had room for all the joy, peace, beauty and love that i see in life had i not made room for them.  if i would have never looked at the hard painful stuff, so i could feel it and let it go, i would have missed out on the beauty that is this life…and it is so beautiful.

of course i am not done.  there will be more things to look at…more pain, more blossoms, more growth…but i see now that my life is so much more fluid.  i almost never loose sight of the bigger picture anymore….the pain comes, i don’t own it, i look at it, feel it…and then it goes…all pretty quickly…in contrast to how i used to feel…i felt i lived in the pain…now i feel like i live in the joy, and experience pain.  and what could be more wonderful then that?  

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often when i point out that something is ironic, i follow it with “and i’m not sure i believe in irony.”  are these things that stand out to me…things i notice that can be categorized as ironic…are those things perhaps meant to happen?  are they meant to be?   i don’t believe in complete predestination…but there have been several things in my life that i feel strongly were “meant to happen”…a person i met, a relationship or event that effected me in such a profound way…i believe these thing were meant to happen so i could learn from the experience or person.  that in fact it needed to happen so i could learn just what i needed to at that moment.

i have noticed that the more healthy i have become…the more in tune with myself and the flow of my life, the more i can pick up on things that end up being important.  i have noticed that when i am open to life and something comes along that is important for me to pay attention to, i often say “huh” and tilt my head.  i have learned to pay attention to my head tilt… to follow through on the event i learned about, or get to know a person better…follow the road i feel my soul is leading me on.   i am finding out that the more i trust that everything will be ok, no matter what happens, the wider and more welcoming my path is becoming.

today my path led me to a friend who needed a shoulder to cry on, literally.  i went to church today.  i LOVE going to church.  i love my church and the people in it.  they are my family.  i never feel i should go, i want to go.  and almost always i sit in the front row…i want to take it all in, the music, the message, everything.  and i did just that today.  i was sitting where i always do, smack dab in the front row, and i was feeling antsy, like i didn’t want to be sitting there.  i don’t recall ever feeling that way in church.  i didn’t want to leave church, i just wanted to move.  so i got up and went into the foyer where there is a couch.  we have a speaker set up out there so people with young children can still hear what’s going on when they are in the foyer playing with their kids.  i sat on the couch and listened, feeling very comfortable…very much like i was in the “right” place.  i have learned to just trust myself, not judge myself when it comes to those things.  i wasn’t very concerned why i wanted to sit there, just that i followed my gut and felt comfortable.  that’s what mattered to me.

a few minutes after i sat down, one of my friends came out of the sanctuary and into the foyer.  i said hello to her and wished her a happy mother’s day.  she walked right over to me, sat down, buried her face in my shoulder and started to sob.  i held her while she cried, i stroked her hair and rubbed her back.  after a few minutes the crying started to subside and we began to talk.  she told me how she was feeling, what was going on.  we had a great talk about life, parenting, responsibility, our perceptions.  we ended up sitting in the foyer talking for the rest of the service.  it was a wonderful experience.  it turns out i needed to talk about those things too…and what is more wonderful then being able to be there for someone you care about?  not much.

after i left church today, i began to think about that experience.  was it ironic that i happened to feel antsy and walk out, putting myself in just the right place at the right time for someone i care about?  i don’t think i believe in irony.  it felt very “meant to be”…and that felt good.  i thought about all the times recently things like that have happened…it seems like it has happened a lot recently.  then i began to wonder…if it’s not ironic when it happens in a “good way”, is it not ironic when it happens in a “bad way”?  and i didn’t like this thought at all.

but being one to never walk away from examining my beliefs, i called my friend, my partner on the highway, and talked about this with her.  i told her what happened and what i was thinking about.  i told her it made me think about my friend ingrid who died when i was 12.  many people over the years have told me “it was her time.  there was nothing you could have done about it.”  but i’m not sure i believe that.  do we have a time?  ingird called me that day to ask me to come to her house and i said i didn’t want to.  i suggested she ride her bike to my house, which she did.  but she got hit by a mail truck a block from my house and died.  i have struggled with this all my life.  was it my fault?  i have started to let myself  believe lately that it wasn’t my fault.  i always knew that believing it was my fault made no sense…i can’t see the future…i didn’t know that would happen.  but regardless of what made sense, i felt responsible.  what would have happened if i would have riden to her house that day?  would she be alive?  would i be dead?  i don’t know.

so i am coming to terms with the fact that it wasn’t my fault, but did i play a part in it?  was it fate?  irony?  or just a random event that happens in life?

my friend and i had a great discussion today, one of many we have had in the last 27 years that i have been lucky enough to know her.  we discussed the idea of placing a judgement on things like death…that perhaps we don’t have to see things as good or bad.  we talked about how it seems some things are predestined…or maybe we are meant to learn certain lessons, but only if we are open to them.  that the more open we are, the more we attract people and situations into our lives that help us learn.  i think this is true.  it has felt like at times in my life, i was going to learn a certain lesson no matter what i did.  the lesson, or opportunities to learn it, kept coming up in all sorts of ways in my life.  it reminds me of the flower growing through the crack in the cement.  if the seed is there, it will find a way to the surface.

we also talked about the idea of power.  how much power we think we have over life and other people, when in fact, we have very little…some would argue none.  but, we have tons of power over ourselves, how we see the world.  i read an analogy in a book not too long ago about this.  the writer pointed out that some balls are going to come at you in life, no matter what you do…that we have no control over.  but what we do have control over is how we react to them.  do we catch them?  do we move out of the way?  we do have control over how we react.  yet it seems to me that we forget that so often, myself included.

so what conclusion did i come to after all this thinking and talking?  i still think some things are meant to be, meant to teach me something.  i still feel good when i listen to my gut and something “good” happens.  the rest of the details, i’m not completely sure about…i might never be…and i’m fine with that.

what do you think?

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the other day while my husband and kids were eating lunch,  my husband and  my son were joking around about something…at one point my husband said to him “well, i’m not going to send you to siberia.”  my son asked what siberia is so we started to explain.  we explained where it was and the climate…and then i explained a bit about the labor camps.  i told him that my grandfather was sent there from latvia, that he died in the camps.  my 4 year old daughter had been listening to all of this and had a question.

“can you make snow angels in siberia mommy?”

i was taken aback by her question but told her that you can make snow angels anywhere that there is snow.  i imagined my grandfather making a snow angel in siberia.  did he?  did he find joy in the camps?  did he find meaning in his life?  i can only imagine what he endured.  i know many of his friends and fellow latvian officers were killed.  i know he was brought to trail by the russians and sent to a labor camp.  i know he never heard from or saw his family again.  i know he never made it out of the camp.

in the book, “man’s search for meaning”, victor frankl writes of his experience in a concentration camp during the second world war.  he explains why he wrote the book in the preface, saying, “I had wanted simply to convey to the reader by way of a concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones.”  he explains some of the horrors they experienced in the camps…but also that the prisoners found bits of joy, humor, love, connectedness, meaning, in spite of their horrific situation.  he did not say it was easy, or that everyone could connect to that which is greater, that which connects us…the beauty of life…but some did.  he tells a story of a fellow prisoner rushing into his hut one evening to ask them to come outside and watch a beautiful sunset.  he tells of art and humor…sacrifice and hope.

“The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action.  There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed.  Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

what made these few different?  were they just better people?  stronger people?  i would argue no.  i think they just knew something that perhaps the others didn’t…that we are more then our situation, more then the circumstances of our lives, and they were able to remember that truth in the most difficult of circumstances…it’s during the most difficult times that most of us forget the thing that is most important…we are spiritual beings having a human experience…life is full of pain and suffering…the pain that we can experience in this life can feel at times unbearable…and it is real…but that is not who we are.  we are not our pain.  we are our light, and that light is in all of us.

so did my grandfather make snow angels in siberia?  probably not.  but i hope that for one moment he watched a sunset or listened to a bird and remembered that he was more then anything that would ever happen to him.

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