Thursday, October 12, 2017

Making Choices

There are times when the going gets so rough we have little choice but to go ahead on faith. An illness befalls us, a death separates us, we lose what we hold most dear. We look around for something to hold onto and there’s nothing solid, nothing permanent - only the beliefs we’ve built into our lives to save us in just such times. Here are some principles I’ve come to recognize as sturdy foundations.

We can choose to believe in the continuation of life despite bereavement. If we look to nature and the change of seasons to reassure us, we can see our own cycles of birth, youth, old age, and death. We learn to trust that spring will always come again no matter how hard the winter. For every body that wears out, or falls ill, or is damaged beyond repair, we trust that another will be born somewhere, keeping the great wheel of life revolving. We come to understand that death and loss are part of life, that no one and no thing on earth is impervious to change. When we accept this realization rather than fight it, we step back into the flow of life and are carried along, buoyed by our acceptance, and protected from the harshest blows by our agreement with life.

We can choose to see beauty in the face of ugliness. The two concepts are so personal, so subjective, that often we can’t label them definitively, but there are a few things most humans agree are beautiful—a child’s smile, the dazzle of sun on water, sunsets that paint the sky in brilliant colors, rainbows, flowers that bloom before the last snow has melted away—and a few that many of us deem ugly; the distress of poverty, the pollution of our natural resources, the results of a casual disregard of another’s humanity. We have only to look at our surroundings and at each other to see that our attitudes control what our eyes see. We tout our free will as one of those concepts that raise us above other life forms. If this is true, then it is up to each one of us to choose our definitions with care.

We can choose to see hope in the face of despair. Bad things happen to everyone; there are no exceptions. We get to experience life in all its manifestations. We watch as natural disasters sweep away everything familiar, witness triumph turn to tragedy and fall from the sky, read of accidents and deliberate cruelties. But we also come to know heroes, those who in times of great distress put their own lives at risk, their own fears behind them, to rescue those of us who can’t do it for ourselves.

We choose to see love in the face of fear. It is fear, not hate, that is the opposite of love. When we work to instill fear in others, we seek to rob them of their power to do what’s right. If, as Gandhi advises, we be the change we want to see in the world, if we choose to believe that our love for each other is a greater strength, and a more honest one, we can achieve wonders.

We can believe in the power of memories, those cherished moments we’ve chosen to keep in our thoughts and recall when our souls are loneliest: recollections of loved ones, of happier times, of days when things felt right.


The Furry Gnome said...

Very good thoughts. It's so hard to write about grief. And so hard to live through it. You've captured some key ideas that help here.

Molly Bon said...

I have by no means perfected it but I try each day to remember that all I have is this moment and not to waste it fretting about the past or the future. I think, though there are many bad things happening in the world, there is also more information available to us, from the great minds and religions and philosophies that have gone before us, on how to live a life that has meaning.

Tabor said...

Good strong post and I hope I remember it.

Out on the prairie said...

I have enjoyed good memories this last week in my dreams.Fun to see those who are no longer with me. I just arrived into Miami and waiting for my room. Miss swimming in the Carribean already.

Andrea McGill said...

Beautifully written. I hope to share your blog with those of whom I know are in bereavment. I believe these written words can help them to find strength in their time of need.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pauline. Long time no etc!. I've sort of drifted back into blogging, albeit in a much more laid-back manner! I'm on WordPress now -

Good thoughts, all shared. We keep moving forward, slightly baffled that our passions are still in pace. Indeed, age does not wither...

Pauline said...

Furry Gnome - it's even harder to live through. I find putting my grief into words helped clarify what I was feeling and why.

Molly - one of my favorite Q&As - Q: what time is it? A: right now. Q: where are you? A: right here. :)

Tabor - you will :)

OOTP - traveling?

Thanks, Andrea.

Sisyphus - thanks for the comment. Were we blog buddies before and I've forgotten? I haven't blogged regularly in months.