I don’t want to do math! I find myself thinking time and again in response to the mere idea of doing it. Yesterday I didn’t want to write this article. Last week I hated making lists and planning. Who knows what won’t strike my fancy tomorrow?
Prairie here, at Dancing Rabbit, reflecting on choice, options, and the weird grey-area in-between.
As we slowly slip and trip out of winter’s clutches, my to-do list inevitably (and forebodingly, in my often overwhelmed opinion) lengthens, ranging from making paper pots for nightshade seedlings, to mulching village paths, and back to writing promotions for upcoming summer events at DR.
It’s a bittersweet relief that most of my anticipated social activities have been cancelled or postponed over the past couple weeks due to a pervading desire to flatten the curve of COVID-19’s reach. While I have more spaciousness to attend to my to-do’s, I tend to see less of some individuals around here.
Choices. They wind me up and bring me down, like old garments now too tight or too loose, but so full of a person I used to be. Choices are like ideas to me: fleeting but fundamental; brief and powerful. Action alone takes a moment; it is choices that fill time.
(I use “I” statements, but I believe these things to be true for all people, to some degree.)
Choices are like pencils and paper, pigment and glass, ceramic and oil. They are the foundation of the pathways before us, and the remnants, as well as reminders of what lies behind. We all make them. Change is the only constant while choice, it’s sister, sculpts and carves, shaping time, our future, and ultimately the present, where our only true power seems to exist.
Sometimes, I loathe making decisions. My belly aches and my chest burns with anticipation under a kind of non-existential pressure, the stuff I make on my own. It has been an interesting road, a journey unto itself as I discover just how little my external environment currently has to do with my internal experience. Real power and potential, I am finding, always comes from within. It is not reachable by human hands, or even intellectual pursuits, sometimes. It is, however, free and boundless — an expanse of possibility, infinite and abundant — and its manifestation is choice. “What do I do now?” Something.
We will always do something. And that comes down to another experience I have been practicing this week: being present. That means saying hello to the messy, exquisite, colorful, overwhelming, imperfect world that I inhabit. It means noting the pussywillow I pass nearly daily on the way to my kitchen co-op, budding with a slow, brilliant grace I ache to embody. It feels like sinking into the prolific, emerald-green chickweed dancing along every available patch of fertile earth. Yes, it is seeing, admitting and acknowledging: “I don’t know what that means,” and “I feel so tired right now.” It is with great humility and courage (I often don’t believe I have) that I undertake this practice, this arrival process. It is breathtaking, in the positive and negative sense.
In a world where have-to trumps choose-to, and offers few alternatives, I have struggled to find myself and hear my voice; the part of me that will direct me unfailingly to my best place. Questions swirl like lost tadpoles in my mind. Questions like: “should I dive more deeply into conventional education?” and “how do I show up in the face of this pandemic?” and “what are my action plans for summer, 2020?” Choices, choices, choices.
Perhaps it is less the tasks I do that I despise, and more the feelings of discomfort that accompany them. I generally snuggle comfortably in-between optimism and pessimism. In my wild moments I sometimes swing from one side, then quickly to the other, testing the waters, tasting perspective. I have decidedly taken an optimistic outlook on this COVID-19 business. Though I identify as an extrovert, I am gratefully settling into an awkward but much-needed rhythm of free time, where there would have been intimate, often spectacular social activities and interactions. Perhaps my introvert-extrovert scales are balancing, and at a time when such flexibility is needed.
Earlier this week, in response to my struggles with perfectionism as pertains to math, Sara, my modern-day Athena, offered something I continue to chew on: what would it be like if I was simply successful at everything I did? No challenges, failures, second guessing. Just infallible, one-hundred percent success. How much would I enjoy my life if everything I encountered, every opportunity, were under no uncertain terms?
I think about that now in relation to day-to-day happenings. I yearned consistently last year for more time: just two more hours of daylight for garden work, another minute for singing, dancing, sleeping, writing. How much would I value those activities if I had infinite time and space for them?
“Would the light seem bright without the night?
“Would you know your might without the fight?
“Would you try to win if you couldn’t lose?
“Would you care at all if you couldn’t choose?”
(A song I learned in 2018, though I cannot recall from whom this wisdom spilled forth.)
The ground continues to soften around here, making garden prep a more easeful process and growing priority. Humidity abounds, along with bright flower bulbs, rainstorms, and lasting sun.
Life continues to look and feel like a massive experiment. I hold no certain answers as of yet, only questions, but that seems to be enough.
Thank you for reading. There is undoubtedly much further to explore on the topic of choice, and I hope you discover more and more of what calls out the life in you at this time of separation and uncertainty, that you might come away with deeper discernment and awareness.
Good luck and strong health to you. May you find stability where the ground shakes, courage when your bones quake, and compassion in all the choices you make.