Tag Archives: choices

Of making choices

I just sat down with one of my typical “mish-mash” dinners. Rice with crushed tomatoes and tuna, a salad of greens, carrots and fruit and ginger tea.

This is quite satisfying, actually.

This year, I want to do things differently. I never make resolutions and do not see the new calendar year as a significant turning point. The calendar is a human-made concept, after all. However, a change of season and a new journey toward a new spring is reason enough for new directions.

ps - crossroad

What I want to learn to do differently is to be more assertive with what I know is right for me. For example, I know it in my gut when someone offers me a new writing assignment if this is the right thing for me to do at that time, yet I invariably avoid saying no. As if this were akin to rejecting them. Who likes to be rejected? So I say yes, and then no. This is not how I want to do business.

The thing is, having so much on my plate that I can no longer give 100% quality work and service to every single client is not an option. So why do I even hesitate?

I think I grew up at a time when we learned that opportunity knocks but rarely and one must be willing in order to succeed. Yet I have never felt this deeply inside of me. Rather, and this is merely a personal perspective, I believe that it is not a matter of opportunity as it is a matter of compatibility, ability and timing.

The example I always return to in my mind is an incident that took place over 20 years ago. Soon after I first arrived in Vermont, I accompanied a friend and her dogs to a special veterinarian in New Hampshire. I had worked for a vet in Montreal and we talked about that. After a few days, I received a call from his office informing me that they wanted to offer me a job. Not only that, but he was willing to sponsor me. I was not a US citizen at the time.

The opportunity was golden. This did not matter. I knew that was not the right story for me right there and then, so I declined without hesitation. To this day, it baffles me that I could be so clear then, so confident, even as I actually had no income and no idea what my future would look like.

The real opportunity consisted in a chance to recognize who I was at the time, what I was capable of, able and willing to do; how I wanted to live, in that instant and whether it was wise to stray from course.

This is the distinction I have trouble making now. Puzzling.

As I say this, I just remember something that I think might be helpful to this quest. I used to attend a little Catholic church whose pastor was a wonderful and well-loved man by the name of Father Denis. He stayed on there for years until one day he made a very difficult, but very clear choice: he left the priesthood. He subsequently married and had a child. Many were angry and felt betrayed, but the only way I could see this was that, for him, not changing his life would have been the dishonest choice, not the other way around. He was not being selfish, he was being truthful and honest.

And that’s the deal. Honesty. In fact, that’s the question. If someone asks, “Can you do this?” perhaps the answer is, “Yes. Yes I do have the skills to do this,” but another, internal question must follow the first: “Am I able to do this now?”

It has nothing to do with time. It has nothing to do with income. It has nothing to do with the prospect of advancement. There is nothing wrong with any of these, but they are not the core issue. It’s all about identifying where we can act with the most genuine passion. I do not mean this in a workaholic sense, but rather in the sense of the ability to give our very best naturally. It is about what fits.

In the end, choosing what fits may require effort, but doing what fits, however involved it may be, does not.

Animals get it, because their decisions are based in the need for self-preservation and survival. Our decisions have the same bases, of course, but we blur everything with self-doubt.


This story needs new threads

Some artistically inclined individuals can stay focused on one project day after day until it is done. Some fearlessly spend hours and weeks on a work in progress in spite of dwindling income. They trust that their creative urges will secure food and shelter. These days I wonder what it takes to have that sort of trust.

My artistic inclinations have always been strong, but my trust that a fully artistic path could support me is not. I have to be honest. I question this a lot these days because everything is pointing in the direction of art, and I think I am resisting this, in the name of that illusory (I should know by now) muse called security.

I think a part of me is stuck in an old survival routine. I keep operating under the assumption that I need structure in order to ensure survival. Yet it is at times of great structure and stability that I’ve felt  the weight of separation from artistic expression the most.

There are days when my confidence soars and I could allow for a year to start expanding my artwork. On days when this thought crosses my mind, I fully believe in my ability to not only follow through, but also find great success and even yet unknown opportunities. This is when I should take a first small step, not after pondering the notion so much that I begin to inject doubt and fear into it and no longer believe in the validity of my own dreams.

ps - 0823Something is trying to shift, though. With every drawback, instead of fear or despair, I am beginning to think, “This is an opening. There is free time ahead. I can fill this with art.” Then, the old practical me soon steps in and before long I fill the gap with everything but art. The only reason I do this is habit. There is nothing to stop me otherwise. I am far from wealthy, but I could make it long enough to see where it leads and at least to make progress. Instead, I keep stumbling on a few “what ifs,”

I grew up in a time that valued practicality and being “reasonable.” Of course, the definition of both is man-made, and so are the choices and parameters. For instance, the life-long career model of the corporate world is no longer true, though we are just on the cusp of this change and it is a shaky ride at best. There is much insecurity when an established model morphs into something yet undefined.

Ha! That’s it. Choosing art would be like choosing an undefined path. The only way to define the path is to embark on the journey. Waiting for a predefined path is backward thinking.

I cannot blame anyone or anything outside of me. I have a vision of who I would like to be and what I would like to do, yet I continue to act on the vision of a former version of me.

I took a dive into the unknown once, years ago. I quit my job and gave myself three months to redefine my path. During this time, I fearlessly lived off some savings. My life slowed down and I needed very few things. I read and read and read, and I found myself. It was precisely because I stopped that I was able to see new opportunities. And to this day I refuse to believe that there is such a thing as being too old, or not wearing the right clothes to make it in the world. This is true only when we keep knocking at the door of others who believe it.

Lately, I admit that I do question my surroundings, the conversations of which I partake, their focus and whether I and the few people in my entourage actually uplift each other. I have to say no. Sadly. Our focus has shifted to what does not work in the world, in our town, on our streets, in our work life.

I am the first to complain, mind you, both internally and out loud. And this is part of what is keeping me in the wrong frame of mind to become something else.

I crave something new, or rather I crave room for the full version of me. I crave long hours doing artwork only. I miss working in a gift shop, rearranging displays and deciding on new stock, opening boxes of new arrivals like re-discovered, long-lost treasures. I miss interaction with people in a playful environment.

I have an opportunity right now. One writing contract ends at the end of this week. I have a choice to fill the gap with more of the same or something else. I can choose to give as much room to other areas of creativity as I give to writing. I can choose immediate security or immediate enlargement of my creative musings. That is like saying, “You can choose a greater version of yourself or stay as you are and never find out.”

I feel small sometimes, because I choose small. Choosing big does not come with an instant pay check. I must decide if I can afford it the same way I would decide that I can afford a well overdue vacation.

Yup. I see it all in a somewhat different light now. Thanks for listening.