Choosing was a complete delight. At six, I was given few choices about anything, so the ice cream moment took on elevated importance. The usual winner: an ice cream sandwich wrapped in shiny silver foil. And even when I picked the chocolate Dixie Cup, life was good.
What joy. Life was simple. It was easy to be in that moment. Who knew there was a lesson for the taking: there are no WRONG choices.
How I wished this lesson had stuck with me. But these days of angst over picking the right college, the right career, where to live. Organic or conventional…it’s a lesson that’s important to revisit: there is another day/a chance to make another choice.
And the journey becomes an unfolding—the process of sampling from life’s dessert menu.
The point is, the anxiety that sets in when making decisions gets in the way of living fully. Reframing the choice as an adventure offers you a chance to fully participate in life. Let’s face it—who hasn’t thought about the “what if’s”? What if I make the “wrong” choice?
In fact, it’s sometimes in the failures or the detours that we learn most about ourselves and uncover paths we never knew existed. Walt Disney gave up a floundering acting career to start an animation business…at some point he acknowledged that the acting thing wasn’t working. Enter Mickey Mouse. Bill Gates studied at Harvard for two years intending to go into law, somewhere along the line that decision was revisited. He dropped out and birthed Microsoft. The stories abound with people’s setbacks and successes as they navigate their lives. There is no straight arrow through life and how boring it would be if there was.
When I started writing about this struggle with change/decision making/transformation, one of my daughters had just experienced a wonderful Kripalu retreat. Her leader--Coby Kozlowski-- shared this wisdom with a group of 20-something women --her secret for moving forward in a creative, unbridled way:
“Life is an experiment. You make a choice. If the outcome doesn’t serve you, you make another choice.”
It’s that simple. Don’t stop walking down the path because you don’t know which side trip will offer the most beauty…there is beauty on both paths, and surely bumps and rocks, but standing still is stagnation.
My husband has a mantra he uses when faced with choices: go towards uncertainty. You know how the choice goes that takes you down the old familiar, well worn path—why not try a different route?
And Deepak Chopra says it beautifully: “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future. ”
What freedom there is in allowing yourself to meander! To let go of believing things are black and white. Of living in all the colors in between. Letting go of the thought that there is a correct answer…if only you could figure it out. About being right vs just being.
One of my favorite Rumi poems talks about this going outside of the bounds:
“Beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.”
So here I am thinking about shaking up my life a bit—about going down new paths, both short and long. Isn’t that what art is about—about breaking rules you have for yourself and rules others have for you? Isn’t that what an exciting, fulfilling life is about? For me, I think it is. Why not?
So think about it. Enjoy the ice cream sandwiches in your life, but maybe think about adding some gelato or even little crème brulee. Or come up with one no one, at least you, has never tasted. I wish you a rainbow of flavors in this beautiful journey and all the adventures in savoring them. Namaste’