Monday, September 3, 2012
This morning on my Yahoo homepage there was a headline....something like "Air Show Tragedy Caught On Video" with an image of horrified spectators crying and holding each other for comfort. I'll admit that for a second I was tempted to click on the link and watch the video. The voyeur in me wanted to see what happened and try to make sense of the horror of the event. I chose not to for a variety of reasons.
I've been trying to be more conscious of my choices lately. I've not been terribly successful but I've been trying. I have also been trying to re-capture what it felt like to be living in the moment like I was a year and two months ago while Brennis was in the hospital. That is something that will take some time and some practice.
I haven't written on this blog for a long time and there have been many reasons. I've been busy, it's true but I've also had several episodes of "falling off the wagon" where my "diet" is concerned. It's not about being afraid of gaining weight. It's about feeling good. Truthfully I have only gained a pound or two through these episodes of poor eating but my body simply can't take being stuffed with junk anymore and it usually takes me a couple of days to recover from a bad day. There are many reasons that I think this has happened but they're not really important. What it really comes down to is a bad choice (or a series of bad choices over time).
We all make bad choices. We make them every day...maybe every hour. The choices we make and how we feel about those choices are directly tied to how successfully we have made ourselves aware of the fact that we are indeed making a choice. We have come to live our lives on autopilot. We wake up each morning and essentially go through the same routine, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed, repeat. A lot of times we aren't even aware that we are making choices or that there are even choices to make. We do some things over and over the same way every time because some time in the past we experienced some pleasure in doing it that way. We don't even allow ourselves to contemplate whether doing it that way continues to bring us pleasure or if doing it another way might bring us more pleasure. We have done it this way for so long that we don't even allow ourselves to think about it.
The truth of the matter is that every moment we are faced with an unimaginable number of choices. At this moment for me, for instance, I could stop writing, delete everything I've already written, make a salad, go to the store, buy a pack of cigarettes, start smoking, mow the lawn, buy a plane ticket to Texas.....anything. I could literally do anything within reason at this moment. I choose to keep writing (actually I surfed the Internet a little in between but for your sake, essentially, I kept writing).
Because I'm thinking about it right now I am currently making conscious choices about my actions. I am right now thinking about the way my fingertips feel on the keyboard, how the heat in the room is enveloping me like a blanket, how the smell of roasting sweet potatoes is making me hungry. Because I am thinking about my choices I am being conscious. Because I am being conscious I am able to be aware of my choices. The further away we are from being conscious of our actions the less we realize we are able to make choices.
This morning when I was faced with the headline on my computer screen I literally had to stop myself from reacting by simply clicking on the link to the story. Because I stopped myself I was able to think about what clicking on the link meant. I realized first of all that watching this event where someone died and their friends were captured on film trying to process the horror of that death was, to me, disrespectful to the people involved. I've watched probably hundreds of things like this over the years (especially since technology has allowed for the sharing of such things so easily) and I certainly don't judge anyone else who chose to watch. I just chose not to this time.
I also realized that every time I click on a link like this I am sending a message to Yahoo (or whoever) that I want to see this. The more I click, the more stories like this I will have the opportunity to see. By not clicking on the story this morning I told them I didn't want to see it. True, millions of people will click on it and my small gesture probably won't make much difference but it was the message I wanted to send and I sent it. I will try to be conscious enough to send the same message the next time.
The same has been true lately of my choices concerning my diet. I have obviously become more aware the last few years about the choices available to me with my diet but occasionally I still make poor choices. Usually one poor choice leads to another poor choice and another and another. It's alright. It's not the end of the world....but it still happened. I've come to realize through these episodes (because generally I am totally conscious while I am making the poor choices) that placing judgement on my choices is only important to me. I have set the standards by which I live my life. My success or failure in making the "right" choice is only important to me. So I have stopped looking at these episodes as "failures" and started looking at them as lessons. Because I was conscious when I made the choice there must be something I am supposed to learn about why I made the choice I made. If this choice takes me further away from the person I want to be why am I making this choice? Am I trying to be someone I'm not or was it just a sign of natural weakness?
I know....I know....This is all a bit much. We simply can't stop and contemplate each choice we make every day and try to learn from it at the same time. I don't think that that's the point. I think what I have come to realize for myself is that my effort to try to return to a level of being conscious and aware in my daily life has become very important to me. Because I know that it is possible and that it is as close to a feeling of "wholeness" as I have ever experienced I feel the need to return to it. Being aware of my choices at every moment is an exersize I use to bring myself back into that consciousness. Whether it's what I eat for lunch, what I choose to read or how I choose to treat a friend it's all about bringing myself to a place where I am aware of my choices and how those choices affect me and the world around me.
So this is the lesson I am learning right now. It will probably be the lesson I will be learning for a long time. There is no schedule. I don't have to be perfect. I simply have to be aware.
Looking back I think of all of the things that I have missed by not allowing myself this gift. I have missed beautiful sights, beautiful sounds and opportunities for lasting friendships. Beyond making the choice for what I am going to have for dinner tonight, being aware allows me to discover the person I want to be and to actively pursue becoming that person. It removes me from the routine of living and thrusts me directly into life face first. With that responsibility means that there will be times when I fail. I welcome that opportunity -- for failure in this instance only means that I have tried and fell short.....not that I have never tried.
So I move forward by being still. I listen and I feel and I think. Now starts now and am ready for it.
Posted by Todd at 6:32 PM