At some point we look back on what we've spent our time doing, how we've occupied those precious few days of life. Of course, we also look forward to how we might want to spend those days ahead of us, too. What's odd to me is how easily we make choices just hoping that something magical will happen to us without us making the even harder choices to act. Magical thinking--so alluring and so seductive, yet such an opiate that can lull us into complacency when we discover that the universe isn't dedicated to making us happy. It's easy to spend our time waiting in line, feeling like we're wasting our time, a motionless wheel.
I've tried to be self-aware enough to actually identify when I make choices by taking no action on my life. A couple of years ago, I noticed I was getting more and more agitated about traffic, grocery lines, crowds at shopping centers, and the stupidity that has to be negotiated when people start wanting to do productive things. I was frustrated as hell about the ways that judgmental expectations feel like a warm blanket to me. The more I looked at my own life, I realized that I was buying a version of reality where life is what happens to us so much more than what we choose. So I talked to a friend, who was then my boss, about my frustration. She said something that I've kicked around ever since: "Jonathan, when you are 65 and you look back on your life, when your kids are trying to figure out how to make choices for their lives, you need to be able to look back and be proud of the choices you made, don't you? It's not your boss who needs to be impressed with you when you're 65, it's you."
Now, to be sure, I really believe in how we interact with our friends and that our friends ought to have a tremendous influence on how we make choices. I believe in the power of friendship, shared journeys, and the challenges they present for self-centered folks like me. My friends make me better, stronger, faster. Friendship is the best technology for personal growth--and friendship takes so many forms and is the foundation for so many solid relationships. Yet, when it comes down to it, we still have the responsibility for making our own choices, even if we choose to spend our time waiting in line. What my friend, my former boss, told me, though, was that I could get out of the line--I have the power to step out of line waiting for something that some other something might or might not give me, or I can trust her belief that I have enough gifts to make great things, really fulfilling things happen. As she put it, "You could sit still and stay frustrated or you can take some risks. If things get messy, we'll all be here to help you figure it out." The particular risk she was talking about didn't work out, but that experience opened up a pathway in my densely overgrown brain; it changed how I think about my own life and how I understand my friends. I realized that part of being friends with somebody isn't about helping them avoid pain, but about enabling them to be bold because by reminding them that we will always stick by them. Then she said this other thing, "The system isn't interested in letting you see beyond it, but you already know there's more to it."
Do you believe what you see? or do you look at the mess of your life, your own overgrown underbrush in your head and heart, and see unbelievable possibilities?
When you listen to this song by Zero 7, notice how cool the electric piano is for sure, but also notice how Sophie's voice doesn't resign to the lull, but almost seems to challenge it.