I keep coming back to this idea of making decisions. Decisions are how we direct our lives. Things come up, in our mind/body or externally, and we make decisions based on those phenomena. Making decisions is easy, when you know what you want. Knowing what you want is the challenging part.
We think we want peace, prosperity, and love; we really think we want those things! And we understand lots and lots of ways that we can acquire those things. But I believe that we don’t truly want a lot of things that we say we do. If we truly wanted them, we would have them, simply put.
If we truly wanted peace, we would easily put enough time into meditation and yoga and self-care and self-reflection and banish all worry, all self-criticism.
If we truly wanted health, we would easily avoid excessive drinking and eating and smoking and happily sleep more and exercise in the fresh air every day.
If we truly wanted love in our lives, we would stop hating ourselves. Instantly. How can we have “love in our life” if our number one constant companion is criticizing itself all day?
I think we are often too afraid to seek what we say we want. It takes courage and work to have the ability to see clearly what is preventing us from obtaining what we say we want. Choosing two or three things in our lives that we know we absolutely want and working single-mindedly on obtaining those things (things don’t have to be things, of course) seems to me an intelligent way to live a life.
Me? What do I truly want? I think Natalie Goldberg sums it up poetically in her book, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life (thanks Terry Tobey!):
I want to be like the old Zen masters whose biggest magic is having a cup of tea. I want the old boys to move over. I’m sitting with them. I’m feeling my breath, uniting my mind and body and floating on the present. They don’t have a corner on it anymore. I want what they have and all along I’ve had it and didn’t know it.
Imagine your life if your biggest magic was drinking tea! How beautifully simple that sounds. How unimaginably sacred.
I can also answer my question by stating what I do not want. I do not want to be admired or carried along by my physical appearance. That seems much too tenuous and transitory and I can get too wrapped up in all that. I do not want to be inside buildings more than outside in the green stuff. I do not want to be unkind, ever. I do not want to care much about money. I do not want my new used car to break. I do not want people I love to be unhappy. I do not want anyone to be unhappy, anyone in the world, especially not the mentally ill woman I caught shoplifting at work last week. I keep recalling her face, so incredibly terrified, as I gently asked if she had paid for that vest. That affected me greatly, her expecting my anger and not receiving a trace, her desire for that $200 vest so great that she walked out wearing it and tried to hide in an alley. Her trembling hands as she explained that she had to leave the store suddenly to make an important phone call. Her wide, frightened eyes.
I truly want peace, in me, in all. That’s all.