Strengthening the Divine Muscle of Choice

When we think about what’s been taken away from us, we are suddenly hyper aware of what we once took for granted.

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If the goal of doing something is just to get through it  – why do it all?

It would be safe to say that we’ve all thought about what we would do if the pandemic went away tomorrow, and restrictions were lifted. 

A charged avalanche of visceral, vivid visions of all the things we’ve been missing. Sitting outside in our favorite cafe, traveling or taking in-person classes. Or squeezing vegetables at the farmer’s market and kibitzing with the vendors; comparing recipes. Having as many people as you want at your bbq or wedding. Going to the theatre or even just hugging a friend.

An endless array of possibilities. So easy to imagine.

When we think about what’s been taken away from us, we are suddenly hyper aware of what we once took for granted. We’re reminded of the things maybe we hadn’t appreciated as much when we did have them.

It was back in August when I started writing this, so this next bit was somewhat prescient. I said:

“Although I truly do believe that a vaccine will be created and things will “resume to normal” eventually…… what if they don’t? 

I wasn’t suggesting that we waste any time fretting over it, but rather posing the question of whether there might be value in the exercise of “imagining” what we would do, if tomorrow we found out the pandemic was never going to go away.

It’s not as easy to imagine is it? It’s difficult to access the world of possibility when we feel victimized by things that are out of our control. It’s a kind of grief. Wondering and fixating on what we might be doing “if”. Sometimes we get trapped in looking through the lens of how things would be different “if only…” 

Stephen Covey put it really well: 

“If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It’s about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself.” 

Stephen Covey

In his seminal work “Man’s Search for meaning” Viktor Frankl’s accounts of surviving 4 years in a Nazi Death camp has moved millions of readers with his descriptions of life lived and lessons learned for spiritual survival. Although he managed to survive, he lost both his parents, his brother and his pregnant wife. Based on his own experiences, and the stories of many of his patients, his book highlights the idea that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it,  and move forward with renewed purpose.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl

So, summer has passed, and here we are in the winter of a new year, and, as predicted, human innovation has prevailed, and several vaccines have been created since I began writing this. 

Many of us have experienced great loss during this difficult time and “just getting through” was often the very best we could do – and that is perfectly okay. 

But in the interest of an antidote to the limitations of a mindset that keeps us wishing things were different or waiting until things are better, I invite you to consider the opportunity of seeing things as they are, through a wider lens and strengthening that divine muscle of choice. Opening up to possibilities.

We are strong. Coping or just getting by is inevitable – we always “get through” but how we do it is up to us. 

In the wise words of the Dalai Lama – Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional.

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