Novel Days

Unprecedented, provocative, onerous…whoa this! These days are full of novelty for our generation. This is our collective reality, and it is frightening and unsettling for all peoples living on Earth under Heaven. Even so, I believe these times have provisioned us with an advantage if we might avail ourselves of it.

If during our collective time-out we endeavor to center and quite ourselves in genuine introspection and reflection, then perhaps we might see our way clear. For much will be required of us, in the days ahead, given our present circumstances. Whether we are able to grow, heal and move forward, together, peaceably, is our most urgent connumdrum. Might these novel days allow us to reconstruct our human relations for the better? Might we become our very own heros, and beakons of hope for the generations which follow behind us? Only the unfolding of the days ahead will inform whether this novel illness has made us better or worse for one another.

Perhaps the following insights and wisdom from some of our esteemed poets, authors, performers and spiritual leaders will provision and enlarge our thinking as we navigate these days of COVID-19.

There is nothing like calamity for refreshing the moment. Ironically, the last several years my life had begun to feel shapeless, like underwear with the elastic gone, the days down around my ankles. Now there is an intensity to the humblest things–buying paper towels, laundry detergent, dog food, keeping the household running in Rich’s absence. Shopping contains the future. As my daughter Jennifer says, shopping is hope. Abigail Thomas – A Three Dog Life

It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though limits to our abilities do not exist. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

What you learn is often determined by what you need to know. If you think you’re weak, you will learn that you are strong. If you think you are indestructible, you will learn that you are fragile. In the end though, you will learn that you are human. You are no more and no less than all those who are learning their lessons as you learn yours. John Bingham

Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Eckhart Tolle 

We are often deluded by the idea that only big things can change the future. We feel overwhelmed by problems that demand impressive solutions, universal buy-ins, and large infusions of cash. We forget the power of simple acts of influence, of moments of compassion, of small stands for justice — how teachers, parents, friends, and even strangers can redirect the trajectory of history in a moment. If we truly believe that everything is connected, that we live in a sacred web, then every single action has influence over every other action. We are enormously powerful when we act to do what is good and beautiful and just — and in how we choose to react when something or someone threatens or shames us. Fr. Richard Rohr

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences — and all events are blessings given to us to learn from. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The most powerful weapon against adversity is having a sense of choice.  When we don’t have control, we lose the capacity to cope. We were born to choose, so let us learn how to do it. If we believe we have some degree of control over the outcome, then we are more likely to choose to persist, to find a way through whatever adversity we face. Steve Magness

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished…that will be the beginning. Louis L’Amour


You Choose!

Most of the time, given the opportunity, I prefer not to choose. My general preference, when the time to choose arises, is to let my spouse or friend or client or employee make the choice for me: where to dine; what to work on; where/when to exercise; which movie to watch or music to listen to.

This is not a comfortable or flattering thing to admit about myself, especially since I am the type of person who likes to ‘work out’ my body. How strange then to realize that I am quite lazy when it comes to choosing in the realm of the everyday and mundane. How hard is it really, to make a choice? Why would I rather deflect an opportunity to make my own choice onto others? And yet, to not choose is making a choice too, isn’t it?

“The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.” “Life has a peculiar feel when you look back on it that it doesn’t have when your actually living it.” Donald Miller

Perhaps the problem with choosing comes from the fact that there is so much from which to choose. If choice making was always about this or that; black or white; yes or no; stay or go, perhaps choosing would be easier. On one hand I wish that making a choice was a one-and-done deal, like when I say I choose to lose weight, gain strength or improve my health status, then BAM, my choice is made and I’m done. Wouldn’t that be grand? No more decisions to make. But that system wouldn’t work too well for me if I made just ONE unwise choice. How could I undo a poor choice if I only had a one-and-done choice making system?

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Fortunately, for all of us, life is full of choice making opportunities, except when our perception tells us otherwise. If we feel stuck, plumb out of choices, then it’s time to remind ourselves this one thing: as long as we are breathing, we may choose; and we may choose as many times as is needed and we may choose differently every time.

Even though I am a lazy choice maker, I am grateful this life I live is not a one-and-done game of chance. No, this life is more like playing the slot machines with the statistical advantage stacked in my favor, because I am privileged to choose; and my choice to choose means I may choose over and over and over again…or not.

In this life, it’s a happy, powerful sentiment to know we have the authority to re-write our life’s story line if we find our story less than meaningful. If by our choices we choose to do the same things enough times, eventually the statistics play out in our favor and our choices become our habits (for better or worse); then our habits create our life (for better or worse). So here’s to the wonderful, wacky world of choice making, and here’s my note to self: You CHOOSE…like your life depends on it!