It is hard to be Zen when dealing with our nearest and dearest, but I recently had an experience where the lovely daughter of some of the loveliest people I know was accepted into two prestigious college programs and had to make a fairly quick decision. There was some angst in this, because the program of her DREAMS was considerably more expensive than the other, also impressive choice. So I, as an outsider with no vested interest said to her, “I am going to give you a magic wand. And whatever decision you make, I want you to take the wand and bless it as CORRECT. That way, you cannot go wrong!”And seriously, she could not go wrong. Two awesome choices for an awesome girl. But we know how being put on the spot makes all of us feel.
There is a reason the expression and concept of “Deus ex Machina” is so pervasive… often, when faced with a dilemma or choice, we just wish God (or Oprah, might be the same thing) would swoop in and tell us or show us what we should do. FREE WILL is a bitch, as Adam and Eve discovered first. When we have the power of choice, we also have the mantle of responsibility, and that is a heavy yoke for most.As much as we think we would like to be Captain of our own Ship, the idea of being the one in charge can be daunting at best and crippling at worst. What relief we feel when “fate” seems to make a decision for us, EVEN if that decision is not much to our liking. Sometimes resignation feels so damned NOBLE, as opposed to the vulnerability of actually having to PICK what we WANT. Hell, even admitting what we want can feel shameful.
Martyrdom is not just for saints, folks. It is a passive aggressive stance most of us take at least once in a while, if not frequently. And it is the exact opposite of saying “I got this”.Somewhere along the way we probably heard the message that actually getting what we WANT is selfish. Or immature. Or immoral. Or some nonsense along those lines.
So we develop a protective position of “whatever YOU want” to put the onus of selfishness on somebody else. ALSO: we abdicate the burden of decision whenever possible. Raise your hand if you have ever been forced to make plans for a large group of people simply because no one else wants to be the “bad guy”????Let’s face it, a large percentage of us have been brainwashed into believing that if we WANT something, it is probably not good for us. WANTING is SELFISH, never mind GOING FOR what we want!!! Going for what we want is downright SOCIOPATHIC!
Alright, so now I am being a bit of smartass, but to make a valid point…one of the biggest obstacles any of us face in this lifetime is that of getting comfortable with desire. Even the word, “desire” has gotten such a bad rap. Yet Deepak Chopra has opined that desire is the “direct path” to God:To judge desire is to judge its source, which is yourself; to fear desire is to fear yourself.
So who is super uncomfortable now?I have a friend who tells a story about being in an elementary school art class and asking her teacher for more clay to complete a project she was working on. Her teacher not only refused to give her more clay, she also shamed her for the request, asking if she thought she was “special”. Um, I don’t know if this happened during the Great Clay Depression of the 70’s, but how I would love to time travel to that classroom and tell ALL of the children to take ALL the damned clay they want and that btw—they are ALL special.
This is an obvious example of a message a lot of us heard growing up—there isn’t enough to go around, don’t ask for more than your “fair share”, and don’t think you actually deserve what you want, that is spoiled and egotistical—and so even though as adults we can rationally understand that clay is a naturally occurring element that there will never be a shortage of (even in the event of nuclear war) it is the underlying meaning we took to heart. That no matter how simple our desire (more clay!) it is simply too much to ask. And so we learn to do without.But guess what?
You actually DO have that magic wand my Father wished he had for all those years…and that magic wand is the power of your choice. And yes, with great power comes great responsibility; you have to be willing to face not only naysayers who tell you that your choice is wrong, you will also have to face YOURSELF when you actually GET what you have chosen without guilt or recrimination. And yes, we do often feel guilty when we get what we want; how is that for an obstacle to well-being?Because the catch is this—if you do not believe you are worthy of what you have chosen, you will either not be able to attain it or even if you do, you will live in constant fear of losing it. And we have so much programming that needs to be countered, including the classic “Monkey’s Paw” mythology—that getting what we want comes at a terrible price. Hence, the popular belief in the “Lottery Winner’s Curse”.
So even though you DO have the power to be or have or do whatever you choose, you have to believe in your intrinsic worthiness first. That is always the best place to start any endeavor at all. You don’t have to believe you are the smartest, or best looking or most talented…you simply have to believe you are worthy of your heart’s desire.Your belief in your worthiness gives you the power to shape the clay of your life any way you choose. And there is a never ending supply of clay. So what will you make of today?