Reflections on a Life

Reflections on a Life

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Good Choices

Nate is spending a couple of days with me.  Every morning his mom has whispered to him to make 'good choices' before she heads off for her day.  He smiles and looks off in his six-year-old 'oh, mom' kind of way and says 'ok'.  And my heart is touched again and again as I think of this very tender moment and all its inherent possibilities.

Good choices.

Oh, what simple advice!  How completely life-changing if those were all that we made.  And why is it that we don't?  After all, most of the time, deep down we know what those good choices are. 

And yet.  We don't make them again and again, over and over.   Ad infinitum.  Ad nauseum. 

I think back over the years and can remember times when the good choice was in front of me, clear as the sky can be blue or the path is straight in front of me, and I made the less-than-good one.  The choice to say unkind words instead of 'I'm sorry' when my pride was hurt.  The choice to run away from a school rather than stay and work it out with a professor who gave me a less-than-stellar grade on a first assignment.  The choice to stay quiet when caught alone, late at night, instead of raising my voice and yelling for help.  The choice to marry the boy from college instead of admitting to myself I wasn't - at all - ready for that commitment.  And then the choice to run away when it seemed too hard.

More.  So many more.

The Buddha said:  "Why do what you will regret?  Why bring tears upon yourself?"

I wish I knew that answer.  Maybe poor choices feel like an easier path.  Maybe staying quiet feels like the 'nicer' thing to do.  Or lashing out means that we can score a point on the one that hurt us.

Maybe the 'bad' choices seem like they are more fun and we deserve to be happy once in a while.   Don't we?  Or, contrarily, the less-wise choice seems to be what we deserve because we aren't really worthy of that much happiness.  Are we?

What would this world be like if that loving mother's words to her small son could be the words we all engraved upon our hearts then - or now!?  Bullying would not occur.  Self-loathing, which is really the premise of all cruelty, would be diminished if not dismantled entirely.

If all our sons were raised to make good choices, there would be no woman anywhere who suffered violence at the hands of any man.  If all our daughters were successfully instilled with the message of 'good choices', there would be so much less suffering for the sake of acceptance.  

Buddha finishes his wisdom by saying "Do only what you do not regret,  And fill yourself with joy."

This is a good prayer for ourselves.

This is a great prayer for our world.

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