Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Now-choices

One of the blocks I’ve been thinking about for the last few days is rooted in a poor tendency of mine: I take life too damn seriously sometimes. I can’t help but to see the world as awesome and glorious, and people as amazing and wonderful and really important, because I think those things are true. But because that’s true, it really matters what you do in the world, and so I get all tied up in internal knots worrying about what I’m doing, and what I’m supposed to be doing. Because, heaven forbid, what if I do something wrong? What if I’m supposed to go left, and instead turn right? Who knows what might happen, or not happen? What if I mess up EVERYTHING!?

See what I mean? Way too serious.

There’s a more insidious side of taking life too seriously, though. Sometimes it’s a sign that I’m trying to justify my own life by not messing up. It’s an old, bad way of thinking, that if I don’t do things well enough, if I do something wrong, if I fail, then I’m worthless, unworthy of love. Old, false belief, but an old, powerful one. It still lurks.

These two things have been a block to me moving forward and finding something to do next, because I’ve had this unshaped, unexamined idea that whatever I do next has to be the right thing. It has to be related to what I’m going to do forever. I feel like I’ve spent years of my life in the wrong place, not moving forward, and so I want to get the next thing right, and everything after it right.

What a way to set myself up for paralysis. If the choice of what to do next is that important, if I’ve been loading it down with that much significance, then no wonder I haven’t been able to figure out what to do. I can’t even bear to look. It’s too terrifying.

Since I noticed myself doing this, since I started to feel my way around the shape of this block, I’ve been trying to change the way I think about my options and the next phase of life, to start leading myself around this sticking point. Whatever I choose to do doesn’t need to be a forever-choice, not something I have to commit the rest of my life to. It can be a now-choice. Just the thing I want to do next. When next year becomes now, maybe I’ll have a different choice to make. Maybe I’ll trade one kind of good work for a different kind. Maybe I’ll start helping people in a new way.

I want to live well, I want to change the world for good in some way, even some little way, but taking the world and myself too seriously keeps me from being able to do anything at all. In order to have freedom to move, freedom to choose, I have to relax a little. There are lots of good opportunities, lots of ways to help people, lots of important work to do. Lots of valid choices. Maybe it’s okay to just do something.

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