I heard something once from a Unity minister named Mary Omwake, that has stuck with me for years. Mary said, “If you’re in hell, DON”T pitch a tent! Keep moving!” I love the visual image in that – that image fills me with the energy of get up and go! Don’t just sit there – do something! Move!
That idea of keep moving, don’t pitch a tent in Hell, comes back to me now as I think about choice and the power in choosing. How often have I sat, locked up and unable to choose something? How long did I sit there in discomfort or pain – “in hell” – unable to choose, unable to move? And what keeps me locked up and sitting there in Hell, unable or unwilling to make a choice to move? Well, for me, it’s usually fear that I will choose the wrong thing.
“Choose the wrong thing” – whew, can you feel the weight of that?! Choose the wrong thing – make a “bad” choice – mess up. Wow, so instead of choosing anything, I will sit in pain and discomfort and discontent. I will pitch a tent and stay in my personal version of Hell. Being wrong – choosing the wrong thing has a HUGE heavy, yucky energy to it. Do I actually abhor being wrong so much that I will sit in pain and disease; I will pitch a tent in Hell??!
When did choosing becomes so heavy and serious and difficult? Do little kids have difficulty choosing and keeping moving? Heck no! Try stopping a 2 year old from choosing – and choosing again – and again – and again! Kids are like sharks; in a constant state of motion and choosing all the time. Kids stay in choice and keep moving no matter what. Do they sit down and contemplate that last choice they made to grab that toy and whap their brother upside the head with it? No way! Do they stop and beat themselves up about how bad they are, what a bad choice that was? No way! Mom or Dad may put them in time out and try to force them to ruminate on their bad-ness, but it’s not something little kids waste much time on.
Little kids are definitely noticing and logging when they choose something that gets them in trouble or ends up hurting, but they do NOT sit down and contemplate their wrong-ness and the error of their ways like I do! We have to be trained to do that ruminate on your wrong-ness crap. So, when did I decide that each choice I make is so critical and so loaded with “don’t mess up and make the wrong choice” energy that I better slow down, stop moving and contemplate each choice for hours or days? And does that way of being in the world serve me?
Doesn’t the decision to stop and analyze every choice from every possible angle just keep me sitting in Hell longer?
How can I choose faster and easier? How can I unlock choosing, take the weight out of it, so that next time I’m in a painful, hellish place I don’t get stuck there pitching a tent?! How can I make choices more like a kid – with the energy of an explorer? Did Lewis and Clark sit and contemplate which path to choose for days?! Heck no, they kept moving or they would have never made it to the Pacific Ocean!
I would like to get back into that childlike energy of choosing. That “let’s try this and see what happens. and if it doesn’t work out, no big deal – I’ll just choose something different” frame of mind. How can I do that? Is that possible at my age? Why not?
To start moving through life like a kid exploring, I going to have to choose to stop criticizing and judging every single choice I make. THAT’s what gets me stuck – that critical, look what a “bad” choice you made there energy.
Funny, as I write this, that critical voice surfaces in my head, saying “Oh Nancy, this entire blog post is just stupid. and nobody gonna get what you’re trying to say anyway. why bother? just delete this drivel and go do something safe.” Whew, man that is some heavy, yucky energy! THAT is the energy of being wrong, isn’t it? But you know what, I’m going to choose to blow off that yucky nasty critical voice and publish this anyway.
I choose to publish this even though it may be incoherent or incomplete or not quite right. I choose to put this out there anyway. I’m going to choose and choose and choose again. Because frankly, the other way – the sitting in Hell, ruminating on which tiny safe little action will turn out OK wasn’t working for me.
Like the little blue tang fish, Dory in “Finding Nemo”, I choose to “ just keep moving!”
Little pink flowers whisper…
“Isn’t this an amazing spot? Hey, are you awake?!”
The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be.
The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should.
The freedom to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought.
The freedom to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission.
The freedom to take risks in your own behalf,
instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rocking the boat.
–Virginia Satir, Making Contact
Today I honor Virginia Satir, who was a pioneer in the area of family therapy. Virginia was one of the first therapists to focus on how each individual interacts with other family or group members – how they can choose to express themselves congruently and honestly or hide behind masks to protect themselves. Her work changed the face of family counseling dramatically.
Virginia also created a model for change, detailing how people react to and cope with change in their lives. Virginia died before I could meet her, but I was exposed to her work by two of her amazing students, Jerry Weinberg and Jean McLendon.
Virginia Satir’s work was all about being open and aware and taking responsibility for your own happiness.
Thank you, Virginia!
“May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
~Rainier Maria Rilke
When I get impatient with myself or the world, I try to pause long enough to remember the river, the flow of the river that I love so much. When life does not instantly present me with the exact and perfect outcome – the perfect and glorious outcome I had all planned out in my head in excruciating detail – at those times, I try to remember to just breathe and flow with how things ARE, rather than how I wish they would be.
Resistance is futile; life is NEVER perfect. And life unfolds in its own wild and wonderful way, no matter how hard I kick and scream and struggle and fight against what IS, trying desperately to get the exact future I had imagined and dreamed of.
Sit and breathe. And breathe some more.
Until I can stop whining and fighting against what is unfolding right here and now in front of me.
How horrible to miss out on today because it doesn’t look exactly like my dream of it yesterday!
Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.
The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.
If you are attentive, you will see it.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
When life gets confusing or chaotic, I seem to find myself coming back around to the basics that I learned in my first meditation class 20 years ago:
Pause, Take a breath, Wake up…
paying attention is simple
paying attention is much harder than it seems at first
paying attention is a form of prayer
paying attention is a radical act
in today’s world
Paying Attention Changes Everything
”This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing
I know: that the soul exists and is built
entirely out of attentiveness.”
– Mary Oliver
Lily expresses her essence fearlessly…
I doze in my hammock
And I dream that I bloom like Lily
I wake smiling.
Can I express myself in the world
like Lily today?