Tuesday, June 19, 2018

on freedom of choice and richness of life

I've often said that I run "because I can". At this moment, the same goes for my choice to pursue a new job and making plans to relocate my family to another state. My husband and I are doing this for one simple reason: because we can.

Life doesn't present itself as a neat package tied in a bow. It isn't always something we unwrap with the excitement of it being what we've always wanted or thought that we need. It isn't always predictable or convenient. 

Sometimes we decide to accept an offer for a new job and resign from another and travel hundreds of miles away while leaving behind a house and an extended family and friends and a town, all of which are lovely in practically every way, while the house remains mortgaged and unoccupied and relationships with the extended family sometimes remain wounded and dangling.

Sometimes after ten years of feeling certain that there would be two children and the second finally being conceived, the excitement to do it all over again wanes. Age and tolerance and openness and patience change.

Life isn't always easy to accept. 

People make choices that affect us -- sometimes infinitely so. We wrestle and shrug and cower and shout and numb because it's what feels easiest. Fear and anxiety and frustration and sadness feel too heavy sometimes so we think that relationships or life itself, just isn't worth the fight.

In spite of our efforts to control our experiences in life (and even our children's lives), the unexpected happens and so, too, grief. And while we may think that we've succeeded for a while at controling our feelings, our discomfort in life returns, thereby bringing us into a frenzy of reaching for anything that might make the merry-go-round to simply stop. The grief from all that isn't as we want it to be or think it ought to be can feel too much and we grow weary that our feet just cannot seem to find the ground.

Young people are looking at the older generations for affirmation that life is worth it. Their world is anxiety-ridden and while we feel it, the pressure they face isn't in our purview anymore. An older person can say that she can relate and that she understands but the truth is that she cannot. It doesn't matter how old a person is, no one can understand another person and their choices or motivations or feelings.

Judging people because of their choices and their feelings cuts us off from any kind of relationship with them. When we make assumptions about someone based on a story we craft about them we are acting as though we've already got them figured out. The need to listen for understanding is decided to be irrelevant.

Casting judgment on others and maintaining surface-level assumptions keeps us from connecting, plain and simple. Perhaps the possibility of identifying with a person and connecting with them feels too scary. Or perhaps the impulse to judge has just become so ingrained in a person's way of being that it's become an addiction.

Why people make the choices that they do is usually not about anyone else. 

Questioning the loyalty of someone when they make a life decision, whether it be an employee, a friend, or a family member, simply isn't fair to anyone.

People make choices. Some people have more freedom than others to make certain choices.

Sometimes a choice produces the desired outcome it was intended and sometimes the intention gets derailed by some other power. Still, people make choices. Every day, in every possible permutation, people make choices. It's the birthright of a human to make choices and that's why people all over the world get riled up when that right to choose is taken away from a person.

I've listened and watched as people have said that they wanted to make choices of all different sizes whether it be related to their health, their family, their jobs, their geography, their relationships, or even their life. It's seemed wrong to accept certain choices people have made. I've found myself wanting to put boundaries on certain choices people make claiming my assumption to be of necessity.

The one thing we can all relate to as we live human experiences is the innate inner drive to choose. 

We can be educated about the positive and negatives and the potential consequences of making certain choices and still the spirit living the human experience will make her choice "because she can".

Freedom. There's always a responsibility on the other side of every choice. And while we can be mindful of how our choices affect others, the quality of the relationship we have with peace in our life, and the ease with which we surf the unpredictable waves, starts and ends with our own self. I have yet to meet a person who doesn't want that for herself.

May we set aside our assumptions and judgments of others and with a spirit of generosity open our hearts and minds to the choices of others . . . and may our lives be ones of richness and depth, and our gift to others be for the same.

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