We, as a culture like choices, options: we love restaurants with 27 page menus, multiplex theaters with 20 movies going 20 hours a day, we can be a fireman or a ballerina, there are a plethora of choices of pie, the freedom to do what we want when we want. These are all things I love and hold dear to my little black heart. The reality of this is however, we only have two choices. We can choose things out of love or out of fear. What is our intent? Those are the first two branches that divide off the trunk of the tree of life. Making decisions out of love looks like making choices out of excitement, curiosity, a desire to do more and better, it is expansive and makes us feel great. Then there is making choices out of fear, which can look like anger, wanting to be nice/ liked/loved or accepted, even avoidance. Making choices from fear can sound like, “If I don’t do blank something bad happens.” I also know that not doing something out of fear is the same as doing it out of fear, same choice and far more insidious because it goes under the guise of virtue sometimes. Fear is contractive it makes us smaller, twists us up, and shuts us off and down. When we make a choice out of fear we generally feel awful afterward, like we were beat with a bag of oranges to slight flu symptoms. I know I have said this all before but like a myna bird with a limited lexicon it bears repeating. Our intent in doing, or not doing, anything determines the success of the action, interaction and the quality of our life.
I try in the moment and certainly at the end of the day to assess my intent in relationship to my actions and how they turned out. What felt good, what felt bad and what those events were tied to. Self-reflection is my weapon of choice when it comes to intent along with tuning into my body and what it is saying. I can remember how it felt to make a choice based on a fear response and one from love, this is empirical data. It points me to my values, mission, purpose and destiny if I choose to listen to it. The key word is listen, go back if need be, but look and assess what the triggers and circumstances were to the perceived successes and failures of the day, week, year.
FDR said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” The term “more important” can be anything from expressing ourselves and saying what is our truth to entering a writing contest, relationship, moving, jumping into the great unknown of any situation and trusting in ourselves and the divine to support and love us in our adventure of exploration. Life is exploration; it is experiential, learning from doing. Then being contemplative about what we have done. Most of all it is doing it with others, exploring relationships, sharing, fighting, being disappointed or disappointing others but being in it and growing and learning. If we are saying “no”, and making ourselves smaller we are sitting on the sidelines kibitzing about what others are doing. That is a form of busy work that makes us feel like we are living without getting dirty with the actual mess of life. We are hiding, usually under a mask of our making, but hiding none the less.
Years ago toward the end of an ugly downward spiral I pulled on my big girl panties and went to see a therapist to get some help. After two or three sessions with her she said I sounded like I was on the right track and we could wrap things up. After the session I gave the play by play to my sister Chris who informed me I needed to come clean with the therapist. Chris knows me, knows I am a clever girl and I know what to say to put others at ease, what jargon to use to present in a certain way, here to the therapist as sane, safe and whole. None of which was true. In fact it was so far from true that my skills in misdirection could make me a successful politician or televangelist… same thing really. I was lying to the therapist and myself. A great love of mine years ago once disclosed that he only lied to himself. His thinking was that he did not impact others in this. I pointed out to his brilliant 161 IQ brain that when we lie to ourselves we lie to the world. We forget that when we lie to ourselves we are doing it out of fear, good golly miss molly lies are born of fear. If we are lying, whether by omission or our lips are moving, we are doing it out of fear. So needless to say Chris told me to go back to the therapist and tell the truth. I did and spent the next year and a half unraveling the root of that particular kind of crazy that was born of fear.
The subject of white lies comes up in the form of the fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Here is what I have to say about that. If I ask a friend “does this dress/pair of pants/motorcycle make my ass look big?” and they say no because they don’t want to hurt my feelings they are not doing me any favors. What’s more they have lied to me out of fear of hurting my feelings so that others in the great unwashed can. I go into the world and people who don’t know or love me say unkind things or treat me like I don’t own a full length mirror leaving me feeling betrayed and mistrustful. I would rather ugly things come to light in private and have a friend say it rather than TMZ. As a friend we can say one of two things in telling the truth “oh yea it makes your ass look like a Macy’s Day balloon” or “That is not as flattering as other dresses/pants/motorcycles you own.” We can couch the truth in a way that is wholly true and as kind as possible so that our audience can hear it. Don’t bury it in sugar so it is unrecognizable either, that again is lying. People who know me know not to ask me a question unless you want the truth. I am not a girl who will lie to you; in fact it is difficult for me to keep my trap shut when someone is lying to me or themselves. I have a physical reaction. It’s a combination of using a cheese grater on my brain and eating a box of tacks while listening to them. I warn newcomers in my life: do not ask me anything if you don’t want the truth meaning my truth, which is all any of us have really.
Our choices show people who we are, what we do rather than what we say defines us. Our intent is what drives that, our choice in response based on love or fear. Engaging and dancing with the unknown despite the fear because there are more important things than fear. Look back at what you were scared of at age 15, 25, 35, 45 how much of what you were afraid of came to pass? Looking at my life I would say 99% did not come to fruition. I was afraid of ghosts, of things that never happened and when they did how much of it was out of my manifestation, focus or self-sabotage? That time spent avoiding, lying and inaction springing from fear was a waste of years in my life when I add it up.
My youngest sister Amy passed away six and a half years ago and her death taught me more about life than anything else I have experienced. Things I carry with me daily, two of which are what a bad day looks like. I can tell you it is not traffic, it is not being too fat to get into my jeans or a loss of a job or a love. Those things suck but there is recovery and learning. Dying is about learning, no recovery there folks. The other thing I carry daily is I want to a make a fabulous mess of my life in the best possible way however scary it is. I have found that living an unlived life is a crime against nature. Amy would have done anything for one more day, anything. What I am saying by choosing fear, by not trying, or doing, or being vulnerable to love and capricious nature of the world is that I am essentially dead. It has not been easy to live choosing love, which can make me vulnerable, but having spent a dozen years afraid to make a mistake, be unlovable, or look like a prat was more painful than I have ever felt so choosing love is a piece of pie and I do love pie.