The Choices We Make

“Perhaps life is calling you right now to concentrate on what is important in your life, or to refocus on your next steps. Embodied focus also allows us to expand our awareness and notice more closely the opportunities around us. This is one of the keys to finding out purpose in life. What the heart can hold the being can accomplish.” The Sufi Book of Life

Some days are for inspiration, for seeing god in everything, manifesting as incredible beauty and vibrant light in the unlikely; the homeless man joking with me about racing our bikes, the green seedlings coming up from the poor soil, etc. Some days are for sorrow, feeling deeply a sense of loss, or perhaps contemplating the passing of a certain era of your life. And some days are for following through, for completing, for doing the less glamorous and dramatic tasks of moving forward. Some days they all blend together and the work is beautiful and filled with light, or the fun is shot through with a sense of pain or bittersweet. What I am focusing on in this passage is that it calls us to be intentional about what our next steps are.

Being unemployed at the moment, I’m pulled in many directions. I have graduate school starting in a week and there is business to take care of before I start, job seeking to do, the application-cover-letter-writing-resume-revising tasks therein, assignments for my ministry program, news magazines to read, articles to write for Edible San Diego, advertising to help find for that as well, house chores, projects, art, the list just goes on and on. Then, because I don’t have anything I have to do, there is the pull of painting, surfing, climbing, reading for pleasure, going on a trip, dinner parties, etc. So when I read the above passage, “Perhaps life is calling you right now to concentrate on what is important in your life, or to refocus on your next steps.” I felt it resonate yes. I sense tangibly opportunity around me, but I need to look a little more closely if I am to find it and take hold of it. It only does so much good to put what you want out to the universe, sometimes you have to be paying attention to know when it arrives, and then you have to leap to grasp it. In light of this I am learning to use my lists as guides, feeling what is ripe, and leaving the rest for another time. No one wants to be a slave to their to-do lists, regardless of whether they’re filled with ordinary tasks, fun, sports, or activities that transcend these designations. I’m learning that each day is for what I intentionally choose to prioritize, whether it is working in my garden or dealing with my telephone bill and installing shelving in my closet.

Today for me is about maintenance, for clearing out, clarifying, reifying intention, and following through. I want to look through the massive quantities of input I’ve received in the last week and cull what is important to me. I want to complete the tasks I have set in motion so that I can feel free to begin new ones, and to create anew. If I seek an activity of freedom today, like surfing, there will be no freedom in it for me. I need flexibility about my priorities so that I can choose to reflect what the day demands or offers.

While our needs for survival can be reduced to food, water, shelter, dignity, being needed, and safety, this is really too basic a structure to use in our daily lives. I think it is as important to feel free and fun as it is to feel responsible and secure, equally important to give and receive love as it is to spend time by myself, to sweep the floor as it is to make a complete mess. And as I think this passage notes, important to take time to reflect and reassess where I am headed before tackling the to-do list with abandon.

And beyond that, what patterns of choosing do I recognize that I need to step out of? Do I always choose seeking pleasure and fun? Do I always prioritize my work? Our patterns of choosing prevent us from being authentic with ourselves and others. They are our real prisons. Not the typical scapegoats of time or work(or another person), but our manner of relating to them. How we see choice affects the choices we have, the possibilities we are aware of. That is to say our creativity in life lies just as much in the options we create for ourselves as it does in what we end up selecting.


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